In "The Sessions," Helen Hunt plays a sex surrogate whose job it is to help a paralyzed man have sex for the first time. But, she would like to emphasize, there's a big difference between that job -- which is a real career -- and a prostitute.
"I'd hever heard of this profession, and I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's a prostitute," Hunt told TODAY's Matt Lauer Friday. "Then I spoke to the real Cheryl Cohen Greene -- the woman that I play -- who still works as a sex surrogate. ... And she explained, as I do in the movie, that ... the difference is a prostitute wants your return business, and a sex surrogate does not."
The film is based on the autobiographical writings of Mark O'Brien, who at 38 wanted to lose his virginity -- which he couldn't do before since he was reliant on an iron lung.
Of course, doing sex scenes meant Hunt had to be "brave" about her performance, a description that got her laughing. "All right, all right, all right, for God's sake, I'm naked. People keep saying this is a 'brave' performance and I keep thinking 'brave' means 'naked.'"
But while there are adult themes in this film, Hunt underscores it's a good film for older teenagers to see as well as their parents. "I think parents should see it and go get their 16-year-olds, and their 17-year-olds and allow them to see sexuality on screen that isn't prurient or filled with shame," she said. "My role in this movie is to come in and give the audience just a glimpse of what it would be like if we dropped all our strangeness about sexuality."
The actress returned with co-star John Hawkes in the fourth hour of TODAY. Check it out:
"The Sessions" opens in New York and L.A. today.
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