In the film, Hawke helps police track a serial killer who murders men, then assumes their identities. It soon appears Hawke's character is the killer's next target.
"So many of the parts I've played, particularly in mainstream movies from 'Dead Poets' Society' to 'Training Day,' are kind of the moral centers of the movie," Hawke said. "And, so I've been looking to find a part that wasn't like that; that gave me the opportunity to do something I hadn't done before."
Asked if actors essentially take on different lives when they play characters, Hawke said, "It's the fun of performing."
"Years ago, I did a movie called 'A Midnight Clear,' a World War II movie, and in a weird way, whenever people talk about World War II, I feel like I lived that life. I did so much research. I met so many veterans," he said.
"Taking Lives" opens Friday.