Another red carpet ride?He went from Pigpen to Oscar-nominated actor, and rumor has it that it might happen again. John Hawkes, born and raised in Alexandria, is once again receiving critical acclaim for his latest movie, The Sessions – much to the delight of his mother, Pat Perkins of Alexandria.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
He went from Pigpen to Oscar-nominated actor, and rumor has it that it might happen again.
John Hawkes, born and raised in Alexandria, is once again receiving critical acclaim for his latest movie, The Sessions – much to the delight of his mother, Pat Perkins of Alexandria.
“My gosh, sometimes I pinch myself and say, ‘Is this my child? Is this really my son?’” said Perkins. She recalls the time John came home from Jefferson High School and said he got the part of the Peanuts character Pigpen in the school play.
“He has not stopped acting since,” Perkins said. “From Pigpen to this is pretty big.”
With a lengthy list of movies and TV shows to his credit since, not to mention a best supporting actor Oscar nomination in 2010, Hawkes’ latest endeavor has critics once again whispering the words, “Academy Award.”
In The Sessions, Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien, a journalist and polio survivor who was confined to an iron lung. With the help of a sex surrogate, at age 38, O’Brien set out to lose his virginity.
To prepare for the role, Hawkes spent days lying immobile on a hard rubber ball that curved into his spine to mimic scoliosis. He also studied a documentary about O’Brien’s life, entitled Breathing Lessons.
“When John studied the documentary, he listened to how Mark talked. He had a very gravelly, gargly sound to his voice,” said Perkins, referring to her son as a perfectionist. “He wanted to do the best he could do. He worked very hard.”
Hawkes’ diligence did not go unnoticed. After watching a scene from the movie, a former caretaker of O’Brien’s, with a tear in her eye, said, “That was Mark talking. I swear that was Mark talking.”
That dedication, along with a top-notch script, director and actors, has the movie world abuzz with talk of its potential for awards. The movie also has elicited positive responses from its audience.
“There are a lot of people who are choking up on this one,” Perkins said, adding that at its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last year “people went crazy” and gave it a standing ovation.
After Hawkes’ performance in Winter’s Bone, director Steven Spielberg contacted him about working together in Lincoln. The biographical war drama was released in select theaters November 9 and theaters everywhere on November 16.
As to the possibility of her son walking the red carpet at the Oscars for a second time for his portrayal of O’Brien, Perkins humbly says it’s not something he is focused on.
“As far as thinking it’s really going to happen, who knows?” she surmised. “Who wouldn’t be proud of getting an Oscar? But he just wants people to enjoy the film.”
Lincoln is a 2012 biographical war drama directed/produced by Steven Spielberg. As the Civil War rages, President Abraham Lincoln struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with those inside his cabinet on the decision to emancipate slaves. Hawkes plays Robert Latham, who served as captain of Company B of the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army.
Lincoln opens at Midway Mall Cinema 9 on November 21.