The actor – who has mostly appeared in independent films as of late – recently starred as the villain Arthur Harrow in Marvel’s TV series Moon Knight, which was released in March earlier this year.
Hawke said he accepted the part after having a chat with his family about Newman. At the time, he had been in the process of filming his forthcoming six-part documentary The Last Movie Stars about Newman and his wife, the actor Joanne Woodward.
He told Insider: “I remember I was sitting at my dinner table and I had just been offered Moon Knight and I was trying to decide whether to do that or not and my youngest, Indiana, who was 10 at the time, said, ‘Well dad, what would Paul do?’”
Hawke recalled that his other children Levon and Maya Hawke, whom he shares with his ex-wife Uma Thurman, had also been present during the conversation.
“We all had this talk: Well, what would he do?” said the actor.
In addition to his famed roles on critically acclaimed films including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Cool Hand Luke, Newman also starred in blockbusters. Most notably, he appeared opposite Steve McQueen in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno.
“Do I think he admired blockbusters and superhero movies? No, I don’t,” Hawke said of Newman. “He hated doing Towering Inferno. That was his idea of a giant sellout. You see him in physical pain in that movie.
“But it’s still a job. You still have to put food on the table.”
The 51-year-old continued: “I am an actor. That is how I pay my kids’ medical bills, that’s how I put a roof over our heads. And my job is not to change the world and make it the perfect place.
“My job is to do good work to the best of my ability. So we all decided, ‘I think you should do it.’ And I’m glad I did.”
The Training Day star recently said he believes he is in the “final act” of his career on-screen.
Earlier this year, Hawke opened up to The Independent about his unexpected decision to take on a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.