Ethan Hawke Meets Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
09/26/2008 AT 02:55 PM EDT
"I was very curious about him," Hawke told PEOPLE. "I've been doing a tremendous amount of research about that whole region during The Coast of Utopia (a play about the Russian Revolution) last year. And I'm going to be doing the (Russian play) Cherry Orchard with Sam Mendes. We're going to travel the world with it so I was curious to come here tonight. He's very impressive."
Saakashvili spoke at the event about his country's recent invasion by Russia. "Georgia came under a huge attack. It was difficult, challenging, but we've had a lot of support from people," said Saakashvili. "They see that this country can withstand anything. The people can be resilient."
The Georgian President also expressed surprise by the reaction of Americans. "I've seen a lot of solidarity among Americans just going around the streets in New York. I am very flattered and surprised, almost shocked that people would care so much."