By: Bill Waters, NewsOXY Reporter
10/20/2012 06:53 PM ET
Helen Hunt plays a sex surrogate in her new film, "The Sessions," a true story of 38-year-old writer Mark O'Brien, who has had polio since childhood and is paralyzed from the neck down, but he is still able to have an erection.
"I had never heard of such a thing," Hunt told OTRC.com of sex surrogacy, at the film's Los Angeles premiere. "Then I read the script for this beautiful movie and I didn't realize what a great part it was at first, I just knew that the story was great."
"Then I met the woman that I play, who is still working as a sex surrogate and she has devoted her life to helping men and women realize their sexual potential in a positive, non-judgmental, non-shamey kind of way," Hunt continued. "I just couldn't believe it existed in real life, or that I would get to embody it for a few months."
In the film, Hunt's character, Cheryl Cohen Greene, is helping 38-year-old writer Mark O'Brien lose his virginity. The film is based on O'Brien's true story, which he chronicled an article titled "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate." O'Brien died in 1999 at the age of 49.
Originally titled "The Surrogate," the film debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it won the dramatic audience award and special jury prize for ensemble acting. It was also picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight.
Hunt acknowledged that a lot of mediocre scripts that have passed through her hands through the years, but said that she knew "The Sessions" was an exceptional one and nothing would stop her from taking on the challenging role."
"You pick through the not-good ones and you choose the good ones when they come, which is rare for any actor, I think," Hunt said of the script-reading process. "This one was just beautiful, that's all I knew. And any challenges that the role presented, I just put aside and said yes."
Hunt, 49, earned an Oscar for her role in the 1997 movie "As Good as It Gets," which also stars Jack Nicholson, and last appeared in the film "Soul Surfer," which was released in 2011.
"The Sessions" opens in theaters on October 19. Watch a trailer and a clip from the film below.