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Helen Hunt and John Hawkes appear in a scene from the film The Surrogate. Hawkes plays a poet and journalist in an iron lung who contacts a professional sex surrogate, portrayed by Hunt, to help him after he decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin.

Helen Hunt is sex surrogate in new film, which debuts at Sundance (Photo)

Get more: Movies
01/24/2012 by Corinne Heller

Oscar winner Helen Hunt's new movie, which sees her playing a sex surrogate, recently debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

The studio and distributor Fox Searchlight paid about $6 million for the international rights to the drama film, which is called "The Surrogate" and is based on a true story, Variety reported.

The movie is directed by Ben Lewin. John Hawkes plays Mark O'Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist who has polio and an iron lung. He enlists the help of a professional sex surrogate named Cheryl Cohen Greene, portrayed by Hunt, after he decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin.

William H. Macy, who currently stars in the Showtime series "Shameless," portrays a Catholic priest who helps Hawkes' character spiritually.

"The Surrogate" was first screened at the Sundance Film festival in Park City, Utah on Monday, January 23. Lewin and Hawkes earned standing ovations, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Today, the real Cohen Greene is a 67-year-old married grandmother of two and is one of about 50 registered sex surrogates in the United States. She told CNN in a recent interview that she has seen more than 950 clients, most of them in her home in Berkeley, California.

"I'm not getting paid for sex," she said. "That is a piece of it but more of the session, we are doing communication skills, touching skills."

Her husband, Bob, told the cable network: "It doesn't bother me because I know what she is doing."

"The Surrogate" has no release date but is expected to hit theaters later this year.

Hunt, 48, 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. That year, Hawkes appeared in the thriller "Contagion" and the movie "Martha Marcy May Marlene." He is also known for his role as Dustin Powers on the HBO series "Eastbound & Down."

Lewin, who also wrote the screenplay for "The Surrogate," has helmed films such as "Paperback Romance" in 1994 and "Georgia" in 1998. His last directing project was a 2003 episode of the spritual drama series "Touched By An Angel."

O'Brien was the subject of a 1996 documentary called "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien." You can watch it for free at Snagfilms.com.

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