Ethan Hawke admits he was ‘trying to flirt’ with Rihanna in those famed courtside photos, and it’s now ‘the family’s shame’

Rihanna in a jean outfit speaking to Ethan Hawke in a dark blazer and graphic t-shirt at a basketball game
Ethan Hawke, right, recalled meeting Rihanna in 2015 during the 64th NBA All-Star Game in New York City.
(Kevin Mazur / WireImage)
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It seems basketball stars weren’t the only ones trying to shoot their shot at the 64th NBA All-Star Game in 2015.

Eight years after taking a courtside seat next to Rihanna at Madison Square Garden, actor Ethan Hawke revealed that he was “caught by paparazzi openly flirting with” the singer and Fenty Beauty mogul. He revisited the moment with daughter and “Wildcat” collaborator Maya Hawke in a video interview with Variety.

“Openly trying to flirt,” Ethan corrected himself. “So that’s been to the family’s shame. So you’re really touching a nerve.”


Telluride: Ethan and Maya Hawke and Laura Linney chat about their new Flannery O’Connor biopic ‘Wildcat’ and the complexities of the author’s life.

Sept. 3, 2023

In 2015, the “First Reformed” star went viral when he was caught in several photos switching seats with son Levon Hawke to get closer to Rihanna. The moment made for evergreen jokes and memes that would resurface for years to come.

“I mean I don’t blame him,” Twitter (now X) user @robynsfentty wrote in 2020.

Earlier this year, Ethan revisited the moment to celebrate Rihanna’s comeback during the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII. In a February Instagram post, the actor shared the photos from that fateful day in 2015.

Ethan Hawke and Maya Hawke addressed the nepo baby debate while promoting their joint project ‘Wildcat.’ The pair are allowed to promote the film due to a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement.

Sept. 5, 2023

“After Rihanna’s brilliant half time performance, I’m hoping my son can find it in his heart to forgive a Dad for taking his moment,” he captioned his post.

“Iconic content,” Levon replied in the comments. Ethan shares Levon, 21, and Maya, 25, with ex-wife Uma Thurman.

Variety asked the “Wildcat” duo whether Ethan would prefer to watch a Lady Gaga or Rihanna concert. Maya replied, “I have a very fast answer because that information is really available online.”


“Riri, baby, by a long shot,” she continued.

Her father may be embarrassed of his love for Rihanna, but Maya said she has a different opinion.

“It’s family pride,” she joked.

Maya Hawke stars as writer Flannery O’Connor in “Wildcat,” directed and co-written by her father. The biopic premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on Sept. 1.