09/26/2008 AT 02:55 PM EDT
got a chance to briefly meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, when they both attended the Silk Road Transatlantic Alliance Party at the Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan Sept. 24.
"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."