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Former Alexandria actor nominated for Oscar

John Hawkes

After she dried her happy tears, Pat Perkins sat down and tried to take it all in.

"I don't know how to express it," said the Alexandria resident. "It's overwhelming."

Overwhelmed is what can happen when you find out one of your children has accomplished a dream they have worked for their entire life - and in the process earned recognition for that diligence and passion with the greatest honor of their profession.

Early on Tuesday morning, January 25, Perkins got the news that her son, actor John Hawkes, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Winter's Bone.

It's quite a coup for the hometown Alexandria boy who got his acting start on the small stage in the Jefferson High School (JHS) gymnasium.

"I am just very pleased and happy and excited!" Perkins said.

While she is running the gamut of emotions, she isn't surprised. Her son has had this coming for years.

Born and raised in Alexandria, Hawkes, the son of Pat Perkins and Pete Perkins, now of Austin, Texas, always had a flair for drama. As a young boy, he would write plays and gather the neighbor kids together to act them out for their parents.

When he was a sophomore, he tried out for the school play - and he hasn't quit acting since. After graduating from JHS in 1977, Hawkes attended college in St. Cloud and then moved to Austin, Texas. He eventually took off for the bright lights of Hollywood, but it hasn't been all glitz and glamour.

"He's worked very, very hard," said his proud mother. "I can tell you that. It's hard work."

In his many years of acting, Hawkes' list of thespian accolades has grown lengthy. He has had roles in several films, including Me, You and Everyone We Know; American Gangster; Miami Vice; Identity; Playing God; From Dusk 'til Dawn; I Still Know What You Did Last Summer; Hardball; and The Perfect Storm.

His talents have not been limited to the big screen. Hawkes has made appearances in numerous television shows, such as Monk, CSI, Without a Trace, The Practice, X-Files and 24. He has also had recurring roles in the TV series Lost, along with starring in HBO's critically-acclaimed series, Deadwood.

Hawkes has steadily gained notoriety and respect in the movie industry over the years, which landed him the role of "Teardrop" in Winter's Bone.

In the film, a teenage girl who lives in the Ozarks sets out to track down her drug-dealing father, who put their house up for his bail bond and disappeared. If she fails, the teen and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Hawkes plays the role of the girl's uncle, Teardrop.

Similar to many of the roles he plays, Teardrop is a dark, sinister character, which Perkins says showcases the level of her son's acting ability.

"His personality is totally different than a lot of the parts he plays. He is very fun-loving and friendly. He's a nice guy," she explained of his ability to get into character. "Sometimes it's hard for me to watch him because he is so convincing."

Winter's Bone has been nominated for four Academy Awards - Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, John Hawkes; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Jennifer Lawrence; and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

Hawkes was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.

This past summer, Hawkes was in Alexandria to attend a showing of the film at Midway Cinema 9 and answer questions from those attending. He knew even then that Winter's Bone was special, and referred to it as "the best movie I've been in."

According to Perkins, who spoke to her son Tuesday evening about his Academy Award nomination, being able to share the film with his hometown made it even more special.

"He is excited and a little nervous and happy and all those emotions," Perkins said of her son's reaction to the news. "He said the thing that made him feel really good is that getting this nomination happened to come from a movie that he loves and he was able to share with his hometown. He said, 'Mom, that makes me feel the best.' "

From his start in a humble gymnasium in Alexandria, on February 27 John Hawkes will be on stage at the biggest star-studded gala in Hollywood. And when the presenter utters the words, "And the Oscar goes to...," Perkins knows that no matter who walks up on that stage to accept the award, she couldn't be happier.

"If it goes no further than this, it i