Helen Hunt, whose work in The Sessions is already getting her award season acclaim, attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival this evening. We chatted with the actress about the "life-changing" film, why she signed on despite some very revealing scenes, and what it is like going into this exciting time for Hollywood. She also spoke about working with John Hawkes on the movie. Check out our chat now!
Seven of the most celebrated women working in film today came together for The Hollywood Reporter's Actress Roundtable. The magazine's latest cover features Naomi Watts, Helen Hunt, and Anne Hathaway, along with Sally Field, Rachel Weisz, Marion Cotillard, and Amy Adams. The women posed for a photo shoot that channeled Old Hollywood and sat down for a conversation at LA's Siren Studios, where they weighed in on everything from the movie industry's beauty standards to their very worst auditions. Click through for some highlights from their chat!
Based on a true story, The Sessions stars John Hawkes as Mark O'Brien, a journalist whose lifelong polio affliction has left him paralyzed from the neck down. When Mark gets an assignment to write about the sexuality of the disabled, he panics a little, because he doesn't quite feel equipped: Mark is a virgin. In the name of research and, later, a newfound personal goal, Mark sets out to lose his virginity with the help of a sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt). While the premise may sound like an awkward mix of the raunchy and the emotionally manipulative, The Sessions avoids both. Yes, there is sex and there is poignancy, but at its core, The Sessions is a tender comedy with laugh-out-loud moments.
Though Mark O'Brien and Cheryl Cohen Greene are real people, The Sessions isn't a biopic acquainting you with Mark's entire life. Filmmaker Ben Lewin chose to focus on one specific time period and important experience in Mark's life (based on Mark's article "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate"). You don't need breadth to really feel like you've gotten to know Mark; all you need are the eloquent words of the dialogue and the excellent actors who deliver them. To find out what else I thought of The Sessions, just keep reading.
Helen Hunt stars opposite John Hawkes in The Sessions, as a sex surrogate his disabled character hires. Hunt recently sat down with me and a few reporters to talk about her role in the film. She discussed her character, Cheryl Cohen Green, and why meeting the real-life sex therapist helped her performance. She was also frank about the nudity the movie required, as well as her reaction to seeing her costar Hawkes in a darker role in a different movie. Check out the interview below and look out for The Sessions when it opens in limited release this week.
This was your first time working with John Hawkes, and it's a much lighter role for him. What were you expecting?
HH: I didn’t know what to expect because I had seen Winter’s Bone, but I didn’t think I was going to meet that guy; I hadn’t seen Martha Marcy May Marlene, which I am really glad I hadn’t seen. I saw it afterward and I was horrified.
When your character first meets Mark, she makes it clear that she's not a prostitute.
HH: Well, the first half, I think — when you do a biography, you get the essence of the situation. The essence of the situation is like, "Yes, we’re going to have sex; yes, you’re going to pay me; it’s not exactly like I need to be paid up front because I’m a hooker," so I think that was the spirit of the experience in real life and the spirit of the movie. And she makes a point, which I got from Cheryl’s mouth, which is, "I have nothing against prostitutes — this is just different," and I think the way that my character articulates that is pretty perfect. She says, "A prostitute wants your return business, and I don’t."
There's lots of nudity in this film. How did you mentally prepare for that part of the role?
HH: There was really nothing to do mentally to prepare. I mean, I did all of my homework for the part, which would hopefully distract me from the fact that I was going to be so very naked.
Read the rest of Hunt's interview after the jump.
Last night's Hollywood Film Awards brought plenty of stars to the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Few attendees went home empty-handed — Bradley Cooper won the Hollywood Actor Award, Marion Cotillard the Hollywood Actress Award, and Amy Adams the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award. Ben Affleck also added to his statue collection, since he and the cast of his third directorial project, Argo, won the Hollywood Ensemble Acting Award. He accepted the prize in the company of Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin. Judd Apatow, meanwhile, accepted his Hollywood Comedy Award.
We caught up with Bradley on the red carpet before the show began. He spoke about working with Jennifer Lawrence in their forthcoming Silver Linings Playbook, revealing that on their very first day on set, the ice was broken right away since they had to practice a dance scene. Many of the attendees' minds were on the third presidential debate, however. Bradley told us his advice to young people this election season is to vote, while Kerry Washington showed off her Barack Obama 2012 iPhone case.
— Additional reporting by Lindsay Miller
Ben Affleck and Marion Cotillard were among those who stepped out for last night's Hollywood Film Awards in LA. Marion hit the red carpet in a strapless gown from Dior, while Amy Adams also attended in a long Oscar de la Renta number. A Prabal Gurung-clad Amanda Seyfried, Kerry Washington, and Irish actress Kelly Reilly rounded out the list of ladies heading into the show. Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Bryan Cranston were also on hand. The Hollywood Film Awards are generally regarded as the first of award season, which gets into full swing in early 2013. Argo was honored for the acting skills of their cast, while Robert and Bradley picked up statues for their forthcoming Silver Linings Playbook. Richard Gere received a lifetime achievement award, while Amy and Marion got individual acting honors.
Oscar nominee John Hawkes is already generating award season buzz for his performance as a man crippled by childhood polio in The Sessions. Now grown, Mark (Hawkes) is seeking the help of a professional sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) who will assist him in losing his virginity. At the persuasion of his nurse, a nervous Mark concedes to the idea and even gets the blessing of his priest (William H. Macy), who assures him that God will give him "a free pass on this one."
The Sessions premiered back in January at the Sundance Film Festival and has already been lauded as a crowd-pleaser and critical favorite. I was prepared for this to be a total downer, but the trailer hints that there's as much comedy as reality in this sweet, if not slightly uncomfortable, film. The Sessions opens in limited release on Oct. 26, and you can watch the trailer after the jump.
Celebs need to tone up and reduce stress, just like the rest of us. Whether it's heading to or from class, it's fun to see which celebs like yoga as much as we do. Take this fun quiz to test your celeb yogini knowledge!
One of our favorite looks from last night's CFDA Awards was Leelee Sobieski looking crisp and refreshing in a cream and white menswear suit, accessorizing the masculine look with only a sexy red lip. Her oft-publicized resemblance to Helen Hunt brought us back to 1991, when Helen Hunt donned an oversized cream menswear suit for a play opening. Oh, how the tailoring has changed in the last 20 years. Leelee's suit was designed by husband Adam Kimmel, and we love the slim jacket paired with slouchier, high-waisted pants. Helen Hunt still managed to look adorable despite the monster-sized shoulders (remember she was fresh off the '80s). What are some of your favorite Summer suit looks?