'Moon Knight': Ethan Hawke on Playing Arthur Harrow and His Thanos-Like Intentions (Exclusive)

Hawke talks to ET about the cult-like leader. Warning: spoilers for the first two episodes of the MCU series.

Two episodes into Moon Knight, the MCU’s latest series now streaming on Disney+, Arthur Harrow’s ambitions are becoming a bit more clear, as the cult-like leader reveals to Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) his plans to resurrect another Egyptian god, Ammit. While speaking to ET’s Will Marfuggi, Ethan Hawke opens up about playing the cryptic antagonist, who blurs the lines of a typical villain, and his Thanos-like intentions. 

Given that the titular superhero is someone who has dissociative identity disorder, exhibits multiple personalities and is possessed by Khonshu, Harrow couldn’t be a typical villain. “He couldn’t be crazy because the hero was suffering from mental illness,” Hawke says of developing the character. 

Instead, he “needed to present something that would maybe be in opposition to [Moon Knight],” the actor continues. “And what’s the most terrifying thing to an insane person? Somebody who is sane, like a doctor or somebody who knows the truth and is balanced.” 

Hawke adds, “That’s very threatening to an unbalanced person,” which is why Isaac’s personalities are so unhinged by Harrow’s presence. For Grant, it’s making him understand the world around him is not what he always thought it was while for Spector, it’s about challenging his dedication to Khonshu. 

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“And so, that’s what I built on,” Hawke says of Harrow, especially when compared to other Marvel big bads like Vincent D'Onofrio, who has played Wilson Fisk on other MCU series, Daredevil and Hawkeye. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to contribute on that level… I needed to be the antagonist in this story and just try to make Moon Knight as good as possible.” 

When Grant comes across a scarab during Spector's mission, Harrow first reveals that he became a servant to Ammit after previously being possessed by Khonshu, then explains why he needs the ancient artifact. The scarab, in fact, is a compass that will lead him to her tomb, where he says she is waiting to be freed. 

Harrow wants to resurrect Ammit, who is depicted as having the forequarters of a lion, the hindquarters of a hippopotamus and the head of a crocodile, so that she can eradicate the world of evil. In the vein of Thanos, who used the Infinity Gauntlet to eradicate half of all life in the universe, Harrow will use Ammit to bring justice to the human race by eliminating anyone, including children, who exhibit evil thoughts, which he considers a disease. 

“He’s trying to heal the world,” Hawke says, adding Harrow is ultimately “trying to purge the world of sin.” 

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When it comes to this altruistic intent, which is a common trait among MCU villains, Hawke says “when you take anything to the extreme, it kind of becomes evil. Whenever you take idealism to some ridiculous point, when you constantly think the ends justify the means, then you start turning to a villain.” 

And that’s the case here for Harrow, who “is a firm believer,” Hawke says. “That’s the problem. Once you go down the rabbit hole, he’s doubled down on Ammit. He believes in that crocodile, the whole hog.” 

But Hawke warns that Ammit isn’t the only god to not be trusted. As Khonshu, who is voiced by F. Murray Abraham, has shown in the first two episodes, he likes to maintain control over his human avatar, who is obligated to do his bidding after being brought back from the brink of death. Not only that, but he seems to have ulterior motives as well as being openly annoyed with Grant and often testy with Spector, who he keeps in line by threatening to take over Layla El-Faouly's (May Calamawy) body as his next avatar. 

When Harrow was possessed by the god of vengeance, he “hated it,” Hawke shares. “And I didn’t want to be like that and I really didn’t trust Khonshu. And so, I think one of the struggles that Marc/Steven has to figure out, as he understands his role and these powers that he has, is how to use them and can his god be trusted?” 

Moon Knight is now streaming with new episodes debuting Wednesdays on Disney+.