Ethan Hawke's latest film is “Wildcat,” which he directed and co-wrote with Shelby Gaines.

The film tells the story of acclaimed writer Flannery O’Connor, who grappled with Catholicism and “looming death” while writing at times wildly violent short stories and novels.

This Thursday and Friday, May 23 and 24, Hawke will appear at screenings of the film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Ahead of these screenings, Hawke joined The Culture Show host Jared Bowen for a conversation on filmmaking, imagination and generational experiences.

Hawke says that the impetus for the film came from his daughter, Maya Hawke, who plays O’Connor in the film.

“My 24-year-old kid who is a force of nature and really beautiful actor called me up, and said, ‘dad, I want to make a movie about Flannery O'Connor. Will you write it?’” said Hawke. “I knew I couldn't do it alone, and I partnered up with this friend of mine, and we really tried to figure out what a movie about her would be.”

Hawke worked with Shelby Gaines to craft the script, which ultimately became less about the facts of O’Connor’s biography and more about her imagination as she grappled with a lupus diagnosis at age 24.

“The entry point of the whole film for me, is that this idea that imagination is different than real life. [...] I had this feeling about Flannery that if we could be inside her, her imagination, then we could actually be intimate with her in a way that's much more interesting than the facts,” Hawke told The Culture Show.

Beyond his daughter Maya, the cast of “Wildcat” includes familiar faces such as Laura Linney, Liam Neeson and Cooper Hoffman.

“It's funny, people love to ask me about what it was like directing your daughter,” he said. “And of course, that's a pretty interesting experience, but I've known Laura Linney longer than I've known my daughter. I've known Steve Zahn longer than I've known my daughter. I've known Liam Neeson longer than I've known my daughter. So in a way, I felt like she was joining a theater troupe, that she'd kind of come of age, and she was joining this circus, and this was a circus that is directed at trying to make a dangerous movie.”

In calling “Wildcat” “dangerous,” Hawke means a movie not destined to be a blockbuster; instead, he saw it as “trying to use cinema as a language, as a way to intersect with like-minded people.”

Working across generations to make an artistic statement, instead of as a way to make money, meant embracing that “every single one of us has a creative spirit, and we're trying to keep that alive,” as Hawke described.

But as someone who is seen as “the face of” Generation X —those born in the 1970s and 80s — Hawke wonders about the value and meaning of generational labels.

“We didn't know when we were given that label that we were the last generation to grow up without the internet,” Hawke says. “I think we're all starting to have a little pride about that. And a connection to the past that is different.”

While he feels “shame” about how his generational peers addressed climate change, saying “I aspire for more from us in regards to leadership as being good stewards,” he also reflects on how things are different for today’s youth.

“There's a whole generation of young people that grew up as the pandemic as an essential part of their upbringing,” Hawke says. “What's that going to do to them? In what ways will that cultivate gratitude? In what ways did that expedite being on your phone? I mean, it's just like streaming, everybody living in isolation, it's like a bad T.S. Eliot nightmare. But it's an unanswerable question. It's not really true. It's just a label we put on things to try to understand it.”

Listen to the full interview above, and listen to The Culture Show every weekday at 2 p.m. on GBH.