Toronto Fest: ‘The Sessions’ star John Hawkes on nudity and Oscar buzz

Entertainment Weekly

by Solvej Schou

John Hawkes, the 53-year-old star of Fox Searchlight’s sadly sweet film The Sessions, relied on his emotional eyes and voice to play possibly the most difficult role of his decades-long career — real-life poet and writer Mark O’Brien, who is paralyzed from the neck down due to polio.

In the movie, directed and written by Ben Lewin, Hawkes’ O’Brien seeks the help of a sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt, who literally bares all to help him lose his virginity. William H. Macy is bone dry and hilarious as O’Brien’s long-haired Catholic priest and confidant. The film is based on an article O’Brien wrote called On Seeing A Sex Surrogate.

“I had seen the film once, at Sundance, and the reaction was unlike anything I had ever seen, getting standing ovations. I had no expectations, and I still don’t know what to expect,” Hawkes told EW at a cocktail party honoring the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs until Sunday, right after the film’s premiere there…

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