That Guy File #4: John Hawkes

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January 27, 2011 by abbyo

Where you’ve seen him: “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” “Deadwood,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Eastbound and Down,” “Lost,” “Identity,” “Miracle at St. Anna,” “American Gangster,” “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” “Taken,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Congo,” “From Dusk ‘Till Dawn”

John Hawkes has worked onscreen since 1985. But for the last six years, he’s slowly been evolving from “That Guy” to serious character actor. With an Oscar nomination this week for his brilliant work in “Winter’s Bone,” it looks like he may finally have made the jump. Most will recognize him from “Deadwood,” “Eastbound and Down” and, for the art house crowd, “Me and You and Everyone We Know.”

I can’t speak for “Eastbound and Down” (I haven’t seen it), but in “Deadwood,” “Me and You” and pretty much everything else I’ve seen Hawkes in, he tends to play nice, unassuming guys who may not command a whole lot of attention, but who you immediately like. And it’s because you like him that you notice when he shows up somewhere else. But I had to see the trailer for “Winter’s Bone” about three or four times before I even realized Hawkes was in the film because he looked and acted so different.
The violent and volatile Teardrop Dolly is not the kind of character you’d imagine Hawkes playing—he’s selfish, embittered and flat-out mean—but I’ll be damned if the man didn’t put in one of the best performances of the year in the role.

As Teardrop, Hawkes is understated and quietly dangerous. He doesn’t often have loud, violent outbursts, but you know he’d be capable of doing real harm if pushed. One scene between him and Garrett Dillahunt’s Sheriff Baskin is a perfect example of Hawkes’ threateningly quiet performance.

Hawkes certainly hasn’t been resting on his laurels, either. He’s in not one but two movies at the Sundance Film Festival this year, playing significant roles in both “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut “Higher Ground.” He’ll also be appearing in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming sci-fi thriller “Contagion.” It looks like we’ll be hearing a lot from John Hawkes, which I couldn’t be happier about. After years of working in film and TV, the man is finally getting his due.

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One thought on “That Guy File #4: John Hawkes

  1. joem18b says:

    wow. i never made the connection between Hawkes in Winter’s Bone and Hawkes in everything else. what a difference. i guess that’s why they call it acting.

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