Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Hilary Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American film actress. She has won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for playing Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1998) and a struggling waitress-turned-boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (2004).

Early life

Hilary Swank was born on July 30, 1974 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother, Judy Kay (née Clough), was a secretary and dancer, and her father, Stephen Michael Swank, was an officer in the Air National Guard and later a traveling salesman. She has a brother, Daniel, who is eight years her senior. The surname "Swank", originally Schwenk, is of German origin. Many of Swank's family members are from Ringgold County, Iowa, and her maternal grandmother was of Spanish and Shoshone (Native American) ancestry. After having lived in Spokane, Washington, Swank's family moved to a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington, when Swank was six.

She attended Happy Valley Elementary, Fairhaven Middle, then Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was sixteen. She also competed in the Junior Olympics and the Washington state championships in swimming, and she ranked fifth in the state in all-around gymnastics.

Swank made her first appearance on stage when she was nine years old, starring in The Jungle Book. She became involved in school and community theater programs, including those of the Bellingham Theatre Guild and The Seattle Children's Theater.

When she was fifteen, her parents separated, and she and her mother, supportive of her daughter's desire to act, moved to Los Angeles, where they lived out of their car until Swank's mother saved enough money to rent an apartment. Swank has called her mother the inspiration for her acting career and her life. In California, Swank enrolled in South Pasadena High School, dropping out later. She described her time at South Pasadena High School: "I felt like such an outsider. I didn't feel like I fit in. I didn't belong in any way. I didn't even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn't seen or understood." She explained her becoming an actor out of feeling as an outsider: "As a kid I felt that I belonged only when I read a book or saw a movie, and could get involved with a character. It was natural that I became an actor because I longed so much to be those other people, or at least to play them".


Early work

Swank made her film acting debut in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a small role, after which she acted in the direct-to-video drama Quiet Days in Hollywood, where she co-starred with her future husband Chad Lowe. Her first leading film role was in The Next Karate Kid (1994), which utilized her gymnastics background and paired her with Pat Morita. It was the fourth movie in the Karate Kid series. In 1995 she appeared with British actor Bruce Payne in Kounterfeit. In September 1997 Swank was cast as single mother Carly Reynolds on Beverly Hills, 90210. She was initially promised it would be a two-year role, but saw her character written out after 16 episodes in January 1998. Swank later stated that she was devastated at being cut from the show, thinking, "If I'm not good enough for 90210, I'm not good enough for anything."

Critical success

The firing freed her to audition for the role of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry. Swank reduced her body fat to seven percent in preparation for the role. Many critics hailed her as the best female performance of 1999, and Swank's work ultimately won her the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. Swank had earned only $75 per day for her work on Boys Don't Cry, culminating in a total of $3,000. Her earnings were so low that she had not even earned enough to qualify for health insurance.

Swank again won the Best Actress Oscar, and another Golden Globe, for playing a female boxer in Clint Eastwood's 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, a role for which she underwent extensive training in the ring and weight room gaining 19 pounds of muscle aided by professional trainer Grant L Roberts. With her second Oscar, she had joined the ranks of Vivien Leigh, Helen Hayes, Luise Rainer, and Katharine Hepburn as the only actresses to have been nominated for Academy Awards twice and win both times. After winning her second Oscar, she said, "I don't know what I did in this life to deserve this. I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."

In 2006 Swank signed a three-year contract with Guerlain for the women's fragrance Insolence. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 8, 2007. Hers was the 2,325th star presented.


In 2007 Swank starred in Freedom Writers, a drama about a real-life teacher, Erin Gruwell, who inspired a California high school class. Many reviews of Swank's performance were positive, with one critic noting that she "brings credibility" to the role, and another stating that her performance reaches a "singular lack of artifice, stripping herself back to the bare essentials". Swank next starred in The Reaping, a horror film released on April 5, 2007, in which she played a debunker of religious phenomena. Swank convinced the producers to move the film's setting from New England to the Deep South, and the movie was being filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina struck. The same year, she also appeared in the romantic comedy P.S. I Love You alongside Gerard Butler.

Swank portrayed the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart in the biopic Amelia, a film she also co-executive produced. Filming occurred in the summer of 2008 in a number of international locations. Swank met Robert Bresnik, a San Diego artist who supported her role as Earhart by producing several photographic reproductions of the flyer, at Legoland in 2008. Bresnik's grandfather Albert Bresnik was Earhart's official photographer, and he owned the original negatives of his grandfather's shoots.

In 2012, Swank's audiobook recording of Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs was released at Audible.com. In 2013, she has starred in the television film Mary and Martha along with Brenda Blethyn. She played a woman whose son has died of malaria.

Swank is attached to star in the Hollywood remake of Intimate Strangers. It was incorrectly reported that Swank would play a lead role in, and produce, a film adaptation of the John Marks novel Fangland.

Personal life

Swank married actor Chad Lowe on September 28, 1997. The two met in 1992 on the set of Quiet Days in Hollywood. They separated in January 2006, and in May 2006, they announced that they were divorcing. In December 2006 Swank stated that she was dating her agent, John Campisi; Swank and Campisi ended their relationship in the summer of 2012.

Swank has stated that she believes in a higher power, but is not a member of any organized religion.

Swank developed potential health problems through certain preparations for her roles, including weight gain and loss for Boys Don't Cry. She has stated that she would "do what [she] need[s] to make [the role] believable and to make it work" and that her "battle scars are a reminder that you're alive and human and that you bleed."

Human rights controversy

In October 2011 Swank attracted controversy for attending an event in Chechnya's capital Grozny on the 35th birthday of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov on October 5. After wishing him "Happy birthday, Mr. President", she reportedly claimed knowledge about Kadyrov saying: "I read. I do my provisory research". Following criticism from human rights groups, who report having informed her about the human rights abuses in Chechnya prior to the event, asking her to reconsider her participation, Swank said she was unaware that Kadyrov had been accused of human rights violations and that she "deeply regrets" taking part in the lavish concert, and will donate her personal appearance fees "to various charitable organizations."


List of film and television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Harry and the Hendersons Guest star TV series
Evening Shade Aimee No. 1 TV series
Growing Pains Sasha Serotsky TV series
1992 Camp Wilder Danielle TV series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Kimberly Hannah
1994 ' Julie Pierce
Victim of Rage Patty TV movie
1996 Sometimes They Come Back Again Michelle Porter
Terror in the Family Deena Martin TV movie
Kounterfeit Coleen
1997 Quiet Days in Hollywood Lolita
' Lauren Schall TV movie
Dying to Belong Lisa Connors TV movie
Leaving L.A. Tiffany Roebuck TV series
Beverly Hills, 90210 Carly Reynolds TV series
1998 Heartwood Sylvia Orsini
1999 Boys Don't Cry Brandon Teena
2000 ' Valerie Barksdale Nominated"?Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2001 ' Jeanne St. Rémy de Valois
2002 Insomnia Detective Ellie Burr Nominated"?Empire Award for Best Actress
2003 ' Buzzy
' Major Rebecca Childs
2004 Red Dust Sarah Barcant
Iron Jawed Angels Alice Paul
Million Dollar Baby Maggie Fitzgerald
2006 ' Madeleine Linscott
2007 ' Katherine Winter
Freedom Writers Erin Gruwell
P. S. I Love You Holly Kennedy
2008 Birds of America Laura
2009 Amelia Amelia Earhart Hollywood Film Festival Best Actress
2010 Conviction Betty Anne Waters Nominated"?Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
2011 ' Dr. Juliet Devereau
New Year's Eve Claire Morgan
2013 Mary and Martha Mary TV movie
You're Not You Kate Also producer; post-production
The Homesman Mary Bee Cuddy Post-production

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