John Hawkes talks sexual healing in The Sessions

John Hawkes is being tipped for nominations this coming awards season thanks to his performance as Mark O' Brien in The Sessions, which addresses the issue of sex surrogates.

Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy sat down to talk about their buzz-worthy film.

Macy said: "A guy named Mark O'Brien had polio, and he wrote some articles because he wanted to know what sex was.

"He wrote some articles and chronicled the whole thing. At the time, and there still is, a thing called sexual surrogates. It's for people with disability to teach them how to have sex, and sometimes to have sex. He comes to his priest, [played by] moi, and says, 'Can I do this?' Well, my priest says, 'yes.'”

Hawkes, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2011, talks about how he picked this film.

"I had some luck with Winter's Bone film, so I was sent scripts – a pretty hefty pile,” he explained. “I wasn't quite used to that great opportunity coming my way. I read them. Some were good, some were bad, one was really amazingly excellent. That was this one.

“It was a role unlike any I had seen. It was a story told in a really concise and smart way. It was a very fraught situation and a character that could potentially be sentimental or self-pitying.

"The script has none of that. It had a great deal of humour. It just grabbed me and made me want to be part of it.”

Hunt – who has already won an Oscar for her portrayal of a single mother with an asthmatic son in the romcom As Good as it Gets –, thinks that humour will help people get over the shock of seeing her full frontal nudity in this film, as she takes on the role of a sex surrogate.

"Well I think the script called for, and I wanted to, get naked right away so that was just done," she said. "Then whatever reaction people had they would have, then we can get on with the movie."

Hawkes explained how he prepared to play such a physically clanging role: "It was intense preparation and an intense hoot playing a character whose body is ravaged by polio.

“This is a real-life guy, there is footage of him in a great documentary by Jessica Yu called Breathing Lessons. That was a wonderful look."

The Sessions opens in the UK on January 18.