Oscar-nominated John Hawkes is attached to star in Ben Lewin’s indie drama The Surrogate for Rhino Films. Lewin is also on board to write the pic, with Stephen Nemeth producing.
The film is based on the true-life story of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien. Suffering from polio he was left paralyzed from the neck down. That did little to stop O’Brien’s aspirations and he going on to become a published journalist and poet. His story was documented in the 1996 Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien which won an Oscar for documentary short.
This film will center on a more peculiar chapter in O’Brien’s life: his engaging a sex surrogate to help him explore his sexuality. By the way, this practice was introduced by gynecologist Masters and psychologist Johnson. O’Brien, as well, published the essay On Seeing a Sex Surrogate that probably was the plot point for the screenplay.
Ben Levin is best known in the US as the writer and director of comedy features; Paperback Romance, a crazy love story about disabilities starring Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrides, and the messianic farce The Favor, the Watch and the Very Big Fish, starring Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum and Natasha Richardson. Along with these movies references to polio and sex works themes, Levin seems to be a logical choice for the upcoming The Surrogate.
The feature is lucky to get John Hawkes, who has long been one of those awesome character actors consigned to small roles. His outstanding performance as Teardrop in Winter’s Bone has earned him a whole new level of credit, and Surrogate will be his first lead role since Me You and Everyone We Know. You might recognize Hawkes from his work in the films American Gangster, The Perfect Storm, or Rush Hour. He has also done typically solid work on TV series including Deadwood, Lost, 24, and teeth’s brushing Eastbound and Down. He’ll next be seen in supporting roles in Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, and the exceptional Martha Marcy May Marlene.
So, this film is in no way associated with Surrogates (2009), the sci-fi action, starring Bruce Willis.