Ethan Hawke: I Feel “Like Han Solo”

At the New York Public Library Monday night, actor and novelist Ethan Hawke wore a large medal around his neck like an Olympian or, as he put it, "like Han Solo."

Hawke was honored with several others at the NYPL's Library Lions Benefit, which included a cocktail hour, dinner and a Young Lions dance party for benefactors under 30 years old. He began the Young Lions Fiction award ten years ago, which gives out grants to writers under the age of 35.

Beneath the gorgeous tall ceilings of the library's Ethan Barnes Solomon Room, the actor and novelist spoke about his passion for the place.

“The library celebrates thought,” he said. “It's the thought that's going to matter and elevate us. So it's an important institution.”

The Academy Award-nominated actor writes stories and published the novel “The Hottest State” in 1997.

“There's so much encouragement for things that make money and I felt that there needed to be a larger net to catch all the really talented work that's not commercial. To find the Herman Melville's of today."

Regis Philbin, Arianna Huffington, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made appearances during the star-studded evening. Steve Martin, Malcolm Gladwell, outgoing Library president Paul LeClerc and writer Zadie Smith were also honorees.

Actress Christina Ricci's large eyes lit up when talking about the New York Public Library.

“It's almost like a fairy tale monument,” said the actress, who was also a co-chair of the Young Lions Benefit party. “I remember being a little kid and walking by it and being in such awe.”

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