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'Reality Bites' cast reunites: 'This job changed the trajectory of my career'

The stars dished on how Winona Ryder played a major part in bringing Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller together!
/ Source: TODAY

Reality still bites, a quarter of a century later.

Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo attended a screening of the Gen-X classic “Reality Bites” at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday night.

Hawke really got into the spirit of the occasion by sporting a T-shirt that read “Hey, That’s My Bike,” a reference to his fictional band in the dramedy.

"Reality Bites" 25th Anniversary - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival
Ben Stiller, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Ethan Hawke attend the "Reality Bites" 25th anniversary reunion at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on May 04, 2019 in New York City.Getty Images

Even Lisa Loeb turned out at the event to perform “Stay,” her massive hit from the film.

The cast shared some memories from making the movie, with Stiller, who directed it, relaying how he also wound up in front of the camera.

“I remember being in the offices and us improv-ing these scenes a little bit and as that happened — and I think I was attached to direct and not act in it — and then somehow somebody suggested — it might have been me — that I should act in it also. It wasn’t until Winona read it and said yes that we had a movie,” he said.

It was a little more challenging getting Hawke to board the project, though. He says Ryder referred him to “The Ben Stiller Show” to get a look at Stiller, but he was not totally sold.

“I am not saying the show ('The Ben Stiller Show') wasn’t brilliant,” Hawke said. “Winona made me watch it. I had never heard of it. No one I had met had ever heard of it and Winona wanted me to be in this movie and I was like, ‘Who is Ben Stiller?’ You just worked with Scorsese and you are going to work with this clown.' I remember sitting watching it and being like, yeah, it’s pretty good, I guess.”

Ryder was not only a driving force in championing Stiller, either. She also fought to convince Stiller to work with Hawke, even though Stiller was initially cynical about teaming up with someone he recognized as a kid actor in the 1980s film “Explorers.”

“I remember you (Winona) called me. You said you should talk to Ethan. 'Who is this Ethan Hawke guy? What is he, like, in "Explorers?" I mean, come on.'"

While Hawke was a working actor at this point — he already had the Oscar-winning “Dead Poets Society” under his belt — he says “Reality Bites” was the movie that really put him on the map and that Ryder’s faith in him set a course for his career.

“I’m indebted,” he said. “Winona believed in me. Winona got me this job. This job changed the trajectory of my career entirely. I’m just so grateful to you, Winona.”