Hamlet star Ethan Hawke pulls no punches when it comes to critiquing the late Richard Burton's 1964 movie version of the Shakespeare drama.

"I was surprised at what a ham he was," the 29-year-old actor tells TV Guide Online. Hawke insists that he's a big Burton fan but says he still can't get over how much the late actor was "flailing about" in his interpretation of the doomed king. Hawke offers a decidedly more subtle version in his soon-to-be-released Hamlet, which is set in modern-day New York.

"I felt like if I had anything to offer it, which I probably didn't, the only thing I would have to offer would be to approach it with a level of simplicity that I hadn't seen this part approached with."

Hawke says his favorite film version of Hamlet is the 1948 version starring the late Sir Laurence Olivier. "If anybody's is definitive, it's Olivier's, to my mind," he says. "I think the first Hamlet that I saw was Olivier's Hamlet. I think I saw that in high school."

What's next for Hawke? Well, it's unlikely the serious-minded actor will be starring in any big-screen action blockbusters anytime soon. "That's not really where my interest lies. I've been acting since I was very young and I don't have a large patience for sitting around on a set waiting for them to blow up a car so I can say, 'Come on, everybody!' I really try to find things that are going to be the most challenging to me as a performer."