Even if Winter's Bone wasn't seen by a huge audience outside the indie world, the film's four Oscar nominations have meant big things for everyone involved in the film-- star Jennifer Lawrence is moving on to X-Men: First Class and maybe The Hunger Games, and co-star and fellow Oscar nominee John Hawkes isn't far behind. No, he's not toplining any blockbusters yet, but the stalwart character actor is in two Sundance favorites, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Higher Ground, that will likely see release this year. Now he's adding another film to his slate, and this time it's a starring role.

According to Variety he's attached to the drama Surrogate, about real-life poet, journalist and activist Mark O'Brien, who lived his entire 50-year life inside an iron lung after contracting polio as a child. He was already the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary short, Jessica Yu's Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work Of Mark O'Brien, but Surrogate won't be based on that film. It seems that the Hawkes drama will focus on O'Brien's later life, when he "hires a sex surrogate and soon develops a relationship that changes both of their lives." Ben Lewin is writing and directing the script.

You could be cynical and say the whole thing is a blatant Oscar grab-- true story, playing a disabled person, based on material that already won an Oscar, etc. But Hawkes, who has never turned in a boring performance, deserves a lot more credit than that. Check out his performance as the terrifying uncle Teardrop in Winter's Bone, compare it to his role as the hapless and adorable shoe salesman in Me And You And Everyone We Know, and recognize Hawkes as an actor worth watching no matter what he does.

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