Belfast Telegraph

Helen Hunt not 'betting' on Oscar

Helen Hunt has said she "wouldn't bet" on an Oscar nod for her performance in new film The Sessions, but admitted the awards buzz is "exciting".

The 49-year-old actress and director - who won an Oscar in 1997 for her performance as a single mother in As Good As It Gets - plays a sex therapist in the true story of Mark O'Brien, a writer crippled by polio who hired a sex surrogate in order to lose his virginity. Both Helen and Winter's Bone star John Hawkes, who plays Mark, are already being tipped to earn awards for their performances.

Helen said: "I wouldn't bet on anything."

She added: "It's exciting. A movie like this, if this movie got that kind of attention it would be a good day for filmmakers and movie goers and actors and women, I think it would be great."

John admitted playing Mark, who only had movement above the neck and had extreme curvature of the spine, was very challenging.

He said: "I helped design a soccer sized ball of foam which I placed midway to the left side of my back to approximate the curve of Mark's spine.

"I made my own mouth stick at home and learned to type, as I was rehearsing, and turn pages of a book and make telephone calls, that was important to be able to do."

Director Ben Lewin also has polio and has restricted use of his lower limbs. He originally wanted to cast a disabled actor as Mark, but the role proved too challenging.

John said: "My first question before I accepted the role was why not a disabled actor for the role? And the fact that Ben had taken a great deal of time and had auditioned both disabled and able bodied actor trying to find a Mark O'Brien, made it possible really for me to accept the role.

"The disabled community is a very under represented group of actors, but Ben was able to answer questions that I had about polio and I think the movie goes ultimately beyond disability."

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