The brilliant work of actor like John Hawkes certainly hasn't gone unnoticed over the past few years, especially his jarring portrayal of the menacing meth addict, Teardrop, in "Winter's Bone" -- the searing backwoods drama that earned Oscar nominations for the actor and star Jennifer Lawrence in 2011.

Yet for all of Hawkes' success, the acclaimed actor doesn't like to publicize his work too much, and when he does, you can bet it's because a he has a certain fondness for a particular project. In this case, it's the 1994 action drama "Roadracers," which just made its long-awaited debut on Blu-ray (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment).

"I don't mean to be highfalutin about it, but I try to limit my visibility," Hawkes told me in a recent interview. "In order to be an effective actor, I don't want my face and name or words in print. But this is something that is too dear to me, so I'm happy to talk about it."

"Roadracers" is remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which the fact it was directed by multi-talented filmmaker Robert Rodriguez between his breakout indie hit "El Mariachi" and his big introduction to the commercial film world with "Desperado." Co-written by Rodriguez and Tommy Nix, "Roadracers" initially played on Showtime before finding a cult following on home video.

Set in small-town Texas in the 1950s, "Roadracers" stars David Arquette as Dude Delaney, a rebellious rock 'n' roller who is constantly running into trouble with a corrupt local sheriff (William Sadler) and his switchblade-wielding son (Jason Wiles) and band of thugs. Salma Hayek also stars as Dude's girlfriend, Donna, while Hawkes plays the pivotal role of Nixer -- Dude's sci-fi movie-obsessed best friend who vows to follow the rebel wherever he goes.

Hawkes said one of the things he loved most about "Roadracers" is the road Dude does eventually take with his life -- set up by an alarming set of events that affects the paths of Donna and Nixer in the process. In short, the film, thanks to its dark ending, is anything but predictable.

"Like 'Winter's Bone,' it's the type of film where you didn't play the ending before telling the story," Hawkes explained. "There's darkness hinted throughout the story, but it comes at you hard in the end in a surprising way. Robert and Tommy very much wanted Dude to be an anti-hero. They felt the best way to serve that character was with that particular path."

Hawkes, who had started his work in film and television in 1985, said "Roadracers" was a huge step ahead for him, professionally, because it gave the actor a sense that he accomplished something with the role.

"I did a 'Northern Exposure' episode a couple years before that where I felt like I created a complete character," Hawkes recalled. "I come from theater, and didn't feel like I had been able to do that much where I could create a real human being on the screen. I felt like I was allowed to finally be able to do that with Nixer in 'Roadracers.'"

The wonderful thing about the Blu-ray release of "Roadracers" is that gives the opportunity to movie fans to see the earlier work of the fresh-faced Alexandria, Minn., native, who has since amassed more than 100 credits in film and television throughout his career.

Part of the reason Hawkes said he's proud from his work in "Roadracers" is that he accomplished it as an actor and not a "star" -- a status he's proudly maintained through roles in such acclaimed films as "American Gangster," "Winter's Bone," "Contagion" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene," and on TV's "24," "Taken," "Deadwood" and "Lost," among dozens of others.

"It's harder and harder for audience members -- at least for me -- to believe someone on-screen when you know the name of their dog and everything else about them," Hawkes said. "There are some amazingly great actors who happen to be movie stars, but there are very few that I believe in anymore because it's hard to separate who they are and what they're doing on screen."

"For me, I want to be the person they look at and say, 'I think I recognize that guy,' rather than the person who was on 'Jimmy Kimmel' last night who does this charity," Hawkes added. "I'm not trying to be the most popular actor, but hopefully the most effective one."

Not surprisingly, the workman Hawkes has about a half-dozen projects in the works at the moment, including a role in "Lincoln," director Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated historical drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role.

"I had one day of filming with Daniel, and it wasn't a scene that required him to be emotional or chew scenery -- but it was a phenomenal thing to see," Hawkes said. "He embodied the character unlike I've seen an actor embody a character. It was a moving thing to be around that day."

Also ahead, Hawkes said he's very excited about "The Surrogate," a true-life story about Mark O'Brien, a poet and journalist who spent 90 percent of his life in an iron lung starting at age 6. Hawkes plays O'Brien in "The Surrogate," which also stars Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

"Mark had the movement of his head and nothing else. But after graduating from college at UC Berkley, he made his living using a mouth stick and an early computer to painstakingly write his articles -- but he was happy to be alive," Hawkes said. "He did an article about disabled sex and wondered about his own possibilities. So it's really about Mark's journey to becoming a man in his late 30s."