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Life after Uma: Ethan Hawke opens up about heartbreaking split

Rebecca Loui / New York Daily News (KRT)

NEW YORK - Ethan Hawke is taking a talking cure. Last fall, rumors flew that the actor cheated on wife Uma Thurman with a twentysomething model in Montreal while filming the thriller "Taking Lives," which is now in theaters.

Since then, he has lost his marriage, privacy and 15 pounds due to stress.

"The nice thing about being married for five years is that Uma and I dropped off the tabloid radar," he says. "I always knew that the way we would get back on it would be if something bad happened."

But while many public figures choose to keep mum when their marriages go south, Hawke has been making media rounds to talk about the bust-up.

"We'll probably get a divorce," he has told reporters freely. The couple has two children, Maya, 5, and Roan, 2.

In a recent interview on ABC's "20/20," he pleaded that it was "difficult for any couple who are married if both people are very ambitious.

"In a marriage, somebody's gotta ride shotgun. If both people want to drive ... eventually you might have to say, 'You know what? We gotta take two cars.'"

Hawke says his talking about the breakup is a strategy to help him heal and move on.

But now the 33-year-old actor - who's prone to knitted brows and lengthy, complex responses to queries - insists he's done spilling dirt on the split.

"I tried being as honest as I could ... I just sincerely feel like moving on."

Sitting cross-legged on a desk in a midtown hotel suite, Hawke blows smoke from American Spirits out a balcony door.

"If you have to read about yourself in the paper all the time and have it be primarily negative, you have a desire to bring the conversation back to some equilibrium," he says.

"Silence is often a very powerful tool so I used that for a while.

"But I haven't known whether to avoid the questions or answer them."

Thurman, star of the "Kill Bill" movies, has already been romantically linked to hotelier Andre Balazs.

But Hawke, who met and pursued Thurman on the set of the 1997 sci-fi flick "Gattaca," says love isn't on his short-term schedule. He says he's spending as much time as possible with his children before going to Toronto next month to begin work on the action movie "Assault on Precinct 13."

"All I care about right now is raising my kids right," he says. "I'm not worrying about anything else.

"I hang with my kids and play the guitar and go to the Knicks game. Those are the kinds of things I do to relax."

Hawke has written two novels, "Ash Wednesday" (2002) and "The Hottest State" (1996). He says writing fiction relieves stress, too, but his kids come first.

In "Taking Lives," which co-stars Angelina Jolie, he plays a witness to a serial killer's crime.

"I studied some serial killers for this part and what is amazing to me is their belief in their own innocence," says Hawke, who got an Oscar nomination for his performance in the 2001 cop drama "Training Day."

"They still feel they're a good person. It's kind of frightening, because we all go through life like, 'I'm a good person.' But a lot of wrong is done and it's done by people who believe that."

He'll be back on the big screen in June with "Before Sunset," Richard Linklater's sequel to 1995's train romance "Before Sunrise" that reunites Hawke with Julie Delpy.

Both actors share writing credit with Linklater for the followup, which - perhaps not coincidentally - features Hawke's character struggling with a marriage that changed after having a child.

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© 2004, New York Daily News.

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Ethan Hawke plays James Costa in 'Taking Lives.'