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Ethan Hawke defends 'nepo babies': 'It's the history of mankind'

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

When four-time Oscar-nominated Ethan Hawke appeared on TODAY Dec. 6, Al Roker commented on the fact that he has really "leaned in" to the "nepo thing."

Al is referring to the term "nepo baby," a title used to describe the children of famous parents who jump into their parents' profession and seemingly find swift success.

Hawke doesn't see it as a negative.

"I feel sorry for this generation that this word has somehow turned into being derisive when it's the history of mankind," Hawke said. "'The apple doesn't fall from far from the tree' is a very old expression. I like what Deion Sanders says about it, when he works with his kids, he says, 'Have you seen them play?'"

Hawke shares two children with ex-wife Uma ThurmanMaya, 25, and Levon, 21 — who already have a number of professional credits to their names. Maya had a breakout role as Robin in the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things,” has starred in several movies and has released two studio albums. Levon appears in the Apple TV+ drama anthology "The Crowded Room."

The actor also has two daughters with his wife, Ryan: Clementine, 13, and Indiana, 11. Clementine helped her dad deliver an award to Amanda Seyfried, and Indiana lent her voice to a family singalong back in 2020.

Hawke believes in his kids so much, he's even worked with them. He teamed up with Maya on the Showtime series "Good Lord Bird," and the pair recorded a cover of Willie Nelson’s “We Don’t Run" together. Most recently, the dad-daughter duo collaborated on a new movie named "Wildcat," a biographical drama about American novelist Flannery O’Connor.

"The movie, it was really her idea," Hawke told the TODAY team. Maya had a "passion" for the author, and she knew her dad did, too. Hawke is a co-writer and director of the project, which stars Maya.

"She did experiment with calling me 'Ethan' on set because she thought it sounded more professional," Hawke shared with the TODAY anchors. "I think it lasted a couple of hours. And then it went back to 'Dad.'"

Laughs aside, Hawke is clearly proud of his eldest daughter's professional success and enjoys how they bond over shared passions.

"I've watched her turn into the artist that she is. And that's kind of our safe place. If you find us at Christmas time, we could be bickering a lot, but talking about art, talking about movies, talking about music ... that's the place where I really connect with her," he said.