Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor star in Apple TV+ family drama, Raymond & Ray | Interview

Here’s what you need to know about the new dramedy Raymond and Ray, starring Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor as estranged half-brothers.

Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor star in Apple TV+ family drama, Raymond & Ray, where they reunite at their father’s funeral. Neither sibling had a particularly good relationship with their father and get to sharing memories both light and dark of their dad while processing how he made them the men they are today.

What Is Raymond & Ray About?

After two long-estranged half-brothers reunite to bury their father, what follows is a tale of grief, family secrets, and the implications of dysfunctional parenting on the lives of two adult children. Long-buried resentments, pain, and anger boil to the surface as they try to make sense of their father’s legacy. They are left to confront parts of their life they never knew existed and form bonds they never thought possible. His death has opened up old wounds and as if that’s not bad enough, he has left them next to nothing as an inheritance and yet has the effrontery to demand one exhausting final request they have to fulfill.

Who Is Making Raymond & Ray?

The film is written and directed by the Colombian director Rodrigo Garcia who in the past created, wrote, and directed the award-winning drama web series Blue. His other works include the HBO drama series In Treatment and the drama Last Days in the Desert (which incidentally also starred McGregor as Jesus Christ). Raymond & Ray are produced by Oscar winner Alfonso CuarónBonnie Curtis, and Julie Lynn, who’ll produce via Mockingbird Pictures. Executive Producers are Gabriela Rodriguez and Shea KammerJeff Beal will score the film while Igor Jadue-Lillo will handle cinematography. Much of Raymond & Ray was shot in the Central Virginia Area, and at Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. Filming commenced in October 2021 and production was completed in August 2022.

This is your first film together, but you both broke into the big time in the 90s, in Trainspotting and Reality Bites. Have you known each other for a long time?

Ewan McGregor: There’s like a simpatico feeling to our careers and the kind of work that we’ve done. I’ve always felt a sort of kindred spirit with Ethan, although we didn’t know each other well. A long, long time ago, we met when Ethan was working with Jude Law on Gattaca. We met and we must have hung out a few times. We’re pretty sure we did!

Ethan Hawke: I don’t remember much else about the evenings except that we had a good time!

Raymond & Ray is a comedy drama about a pair of estranged half-brothers, made by writer-director Rodrigo García. Who signed up first?

Ewan: I read the script first. I’d made a film with Rodrigo in the past called Last Days in the Desert. We were very excited to get the script to Ethan. And you’d worked with Rodrigo when he was a camera operator, right?

Ethan: Yes, on Reality Bites and Great Expectations. Which were two movies I made very close in time to each other – so I’ve been following his career for 20 years, just because I really liked him as a man. He’s a very likeable, engaging, kind, warm soul.

The brothers’ father leaves very specific instructions about his wishes after his death. Have you ever thought about how you’d want to leave this life?

Ethan: First off, I don’t want to leave this life. I plan on immortality… that’s my goal. Actual permanent life. My favourite Willie Nelson quote is, “I don’t go to funerals and I definitely won’t go to mine.”

Did either of you ever think about playing the other brother?

Ethan: I’m haunted by this question. Ewan, you definitely could play both roles extremely well. And I don’t think that I would have played Raymond as well as you. It’s an acting exercise we never did.

Ewan: If it was a play we could trade parts. Danny Boyle directed Frankenstein at the National, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller switched roles.

What did you both learn from the film about being a son and being a father?

Ethan: I enjoyed this because it’s a giant meditation on being a child and being a parent. As I start to understand what my parents might have been going through, I become a lot more forgiving.

Ewan: Great answer!

As the film deals with legacy, how would you like to be remembered?

Ethan: After I’m gone, the Toronto International Film Festival [where the film had its premiere] should be, I think, for about 10 years, dedicated to my work.

Ewan: I’ll make sure of it. And likewise, you can do the same for me if it’s the other way around.

But as you’re film stars, people can watch you on screen for ever! That’s a kind of immortality. What do your kids think?

Ethan: All joking aside… we’re all building sandcastles, and some of the sandcastles get knocked down sooner than others. I made this documentary, The Last Movie Stars, about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. And my biggest lesson from that was the greatest impact you have on people is the people who love you. Those are the relationships that really matter.

Ewan: Your children know you from their life with you. Whether they watch [our work] after we’re gone or not, it’s our relationship with them that’s the more important thing.

You recently made shows for Disney, with Moon Knight [Hawke] and Obi-Wan Kenobi [McGregor]. Are superheroes and sci-fi really your thing?

Ewan: The first film I ever saw in the cinema was Bedknobs and Broomsticks. That was Disney!

Ethan: My imagination doesn’t work for a lot of superhero movies. In a movie musical, it only takes a minute for me to think, “Why are they singing?” I always feel the same with the spandex suits – why is he wearing that outfit? Doesn’t make any sense. Where did he get the fabric? My brain is too literal. I did Moon Knight because I got to play a character I could wrap my head around.

This film is on Apple TV+. Is the future of movies on streaming?

Ethan: I was lucky enough to work with Sidney Lumet on his last movie [2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead]. When he started, live television was the thing he really wanted to do. Then he moved into cinema. And the limited series was happening as he was passing. How [the work] is received and how it’s sold and how it’s marketed… he felt like, “That’s not really my business, because I know it’s going to change in a decade anyway.”

Ewan: I think that things will carry on as they have been. I think things will be on streaming, things will be in the cinema. I don’t feel like there’s a danger that cinema is going to disappear.

If you could only take on one more role, what would it be?

Ewan: There’s a Pinter play, The Caretaker, that I love, and has been important in my life. I’m too old now, but I always wanted to play Aston.

Ethan: I would make a good Dracula! I’d like to play Dracula.

Out now on Apple TV+ 

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Stevie Flavio
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