Minnesota high school wrestler turned Oscar nominee

The new movie “Earthwork” opens this weekend at the Film Society in Minneapolis. It stars Alexandria native John Hawkes, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in the film “Winter’s Bone.”

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Oscar nominee John Hawkes plays a Kansas farmer and crop artist trying to work in Manhattan in “Earthwork” (Image courtesy Shadow Distribution)

Hawkes is returning to Alexandria this week to present “Earthwork,” and MPR’s Euan Kerr caught up with him to talk about the new film, and how he went from life in rural Minnesota to that of a movie star.

Hawkes said he was a high school wrestler, but looked for something else when he gave that up. He said that the reason he became an actor was because of the Guthrie Theater.

In his sophomore year, he got on a bus with his classmates and traveled to Minneapolis to see Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” He said he had never seen a real play before.

“And I was just so amazed that day,” he said. “I just kind of couldn’t shake the feeling of how I felt and how those people had stirred emotion in me and kind of wondered if someday I could do that for someone else.”

Hawkes credits his drama teachers at Jefferson High school in Alexandria for getting him started. He moved to Texas and helped launch a theater company in Austin.

You can read the full story here, or listen to it by clicking on the audio link below:

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