John Hawkes

John Hawkes struck pay dirt with his portrayal of Mark O’Brien in “The Sessions”. Hawkes’ sensitive, wry portrayal of a 36 year old poet who is forced to rely on an iron lung to help him breathe struck a sympathetic chord with audiences, and ensured him a nomination as Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. John Hawkes stars in the film as a former poet and journalist who has been hiding a dark secret for all of his life: he is still a virgin! Accordingly, when he senses that the end of his life may well be near, he decides to enlist the help of a professional sex surrogate (as well as his priest) to ensure that he will not die as one. As such, hilarity ensues.

John Hawkes’ masterful portrayal of young Mark O’Brien won acclaim for its naturalism, as well as meticulous attention to detail. Hawkes also accrued the strategic advantage of having an excellent script to work with, courtesy of director and writer Ben Lewin. Lewin’s lean, prosaic, script and naturalistic direction style managed to wring pathos from this contrived situation without showing its seams. Hawkes’ canny accent, skillful timing, and facial expressions made him an instant critical favorite, and the film itself did reasonably well at the international box office. “The Sessions” is also expected to perform with reasonable aplomb on the DVD and Blu-Ray market.

“The Sessions” also benefited from a stellar supporting cast, which included such luminaries as Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, and Moon Bloodgood. Indeed, “The Sessions” won instant praise from many critics and movie goers thanks to its sympathetic ensemble cast. Still, as the main character, the onus was on John Hawkes to deliver a breakout performance. The stakes were high, yet John Hawkes managed to pull through with audacious vigor and opportunistic chutzpah.