Hilary Swank

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Hilary Swank
Life Ball 2013 - magenta carpet Hilary Swank 03.jpg
Swank on the 'magenta carpet' at Life Ball 2013 in Vienna, Austria.
BornHilary Ann Swank
(1974-07-30) July 30, 1974 (age 39)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Chad Lowe (m. 1997–2007)
Jump to: navigation, search
Hilary Swank
Life Ball 2013 - magenta carpet Hilary Swank 03.jpg
Swank on the 'magenta carpet' at Life Ball 2013 in Vienna, Austria.
BornHilary Ann Swank
(1974-07-30) July 30, 1974 (age 39)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Chad Lowe (m. 1997–2007)

Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American actress. She has twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 2007, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Swank made her film debut in a minor role in the 1992 comedy film Buffy the Vampire Slayer before starring in her breakout lead role in the fourth installment of the The Karate Kid franchise The Next Karate Kid in 1994, alongside Pat Morita. On television, she was cast as part of the main cast in the eighth season of the drama series Beverly Hills 90210 as single mother Carly Reynolds from 1997-1998.

Swank would garner critical acclaim for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in the 1999 biographical indie film Boys Don't Cry, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. She would then star in Clint Eastwood’s 2004 film Million Dollar Baby as struggling-waitress-turned-boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, which won her a second Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Her other films include, The Gift (2000), Insomnia (2002), Iron Jawed Angels (2004), The Reaping (2007), P.S. I Love You (2007), Freedom Writers (2007), the biographical aviation film Amelia (2009) and New Year's Eve (2011).

Early life[edit]

Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska.[1] Her mother, Judy Kay (née Clough),[2] was a secretary and dancer, and her father, Stephen Michael Swank, was a Chief Master Sergeant in the Oregon Air National Guard and later a traveling salesman.[3] She has a brother Daniel, who is eight years her senior.[4] The surname "Swank", originally Schwenk, is of German origin.[5] Many of Swank's family members are from Ringgold County, Iowa,[1] and her maternal grandmother was of Spanish and Shoshone (Native American) ancestry.[6] After living in Spokane, Washington, Swank's family moved to a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington, when Swank was six.[7]

She attended Happy Valley Elementary, Fairhaven Middle, then Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was sixteen.[6][8] 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.[8] 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.[7] Swank has called her mother the inspiration for her acting career and her life.[9] 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.”[7] 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”.[10]


Early work[edit]

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 at the time Chad Lowe.[4] 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 1994, she also starred in the drama Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story in which she played the abused step-daughter who was protected by Jaclyn Smith's character. 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.[6] 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."[11]

Critical success[edit]

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.[6] Swank had earned only $75 per day for her work on Boys Don't Cry, culminating in a total of $3,000.[12] Her earnings were so low that she had not even earned enough to qualify for health insurance.[13]

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.[13] With her second Oscar, she had joined the ranks of Vivien Leigh, Helen Hayes and Luise Rainer as the only actresses to have been nominated for Academy Awards twice and win both times.[14] 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."[13]

In 2006 Swank signed a three-year contract with Guerlain for the women's fragrance Insolence.[15] She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 8, 2007. Hers was the 2,325th star presented.[16][17]


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,[18] and another stating that her performance reaches a "singular lack of artifice, stripping herself back to the bare essentials".[19] 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.[20] The same year, she also appeared in the romantic comedy P.S. I Love You alongside Gerard Butler.[20][21]

Swank portrayed the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart in the biopic Amelia, a film she also co-executive produced.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

Swank is attached to star in the Hollywood remake of Intimate Strangers.[26] It was incorrectly reported that Swank would play a lead role in, and produce, a film adaptation of the John Marks novel Fangland.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

First Lady Michelle Obama and Hilary Swank in 2011

Swank married actor Chad Lowe on September 28, 1997. The two met in 1992 on the set of Quiet Days in Hollywood.[4] They separated in January 2006,[29] and in May 2006, they announced that they were divorcing. In December 2006 Swank stated that she was dating her agent, John Campisi;[30] Swank and Campisi ended their relationship in the summer of 2012.[31]

Swank has stated that she believes in a higher power, but is not a member of any organized religion.[32]

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."[33]

Human rights controversy[edit]

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.[34] After wishing him "Happy birthday, Mr. President", she reportedly claimed knowledge about Kadyrov saying: "I read. I do my provisory research".[35] 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,[36][37] 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."[38]


Feature films and television shows
1990ABC TGIFDanielle
1991Harry and the HendersonsEpisode: Harry Goes Ape
Evening ShadeAimee No. 12 episodes
1991–1992Growing PainsSasha Serotsky2 episodes
1992Buffy the Vampire SlayerKimberly Hannah
1992–1993Camp WilderDanielle19 episodes
1994Next Karate Kid, TheThe Next Karate KidJulie Pierce
Victim of RagePattyTV movie
1996Sometimes They Come Back... AgainMichelle PorterDirect-to-video
Terror in the FamilyDeena MartinTV movie
1997Quiet Days in HollywoodLolita
Sleepwalker Killing, TheThe Sleepwalker KillingLauren SchallTV movie
Dying to BelongLisa Connors
Leaving L.A.Tiffany Roebuck6 episodes
1997–1998Beverly Hills, 90210Carly Reynolds16 episodes
1998HeartwoodSylvia Orsini
1999Boys Don't CryBrandon Teena
2000Gift, TheThe GiftValerie BarksdaleNominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
The AuditionShort
2001Affair of the Necklace, TheThe Affair of the NecklaceJeanne St. Rémy de Valois
2002InsomniaDetective Ellie BurrNominated—Empire Award for Best Actress
Core, TheThe CoreMajor Rebecca Childs
2004Red DustSarah Barcant
Iron Jawed AngelsAlice Paul
Million Dollar BabyMaggie Fitzgerald
2006Black Dahlia, TheThe Black DahliaMadeleine Linscott
2007Reaping, TheThe ReapingKatherine Winter
Freedom WritersErin Gruwell
P. S. I Love YouHolly Kennedy
2008Birds of AmericaLaura
2009AmeliaAmelia EarhartHollywood Film Festival Best Actress
2010ConvictionBetty Anne WatersNominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
2011Resident, TheThe ResidentDr. Juliet Devereau
New Year's EveClaire Morgan
2013Mary and MarthaMaryTV movie
You're Not YouKateAlso producer; post-production
2014The HomesmanMary Bee CuddyPost-production


  1. ^ a b "Senate Resolution 16 – Introduced". The Iowa Legislature. April 19, 2005. 
  2. ^ "Hilary Swank". Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Hilary Swank Biography (1974–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  4. ^ a b c "Hilary Swank Biography". Yahoo! Inc. 
  5. ^ "The Swank Family". Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Interview". Inside the Actors Studio. 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c Longsdorf, Amy (January 3, 2007). "Swank: Acting gave me sense of focus". TimesLeader. Archived from the original on 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  8. ^ a b Tiscali UK (2006). "Hilary Swank Biography". tiscali.film & tv web site. Retrieved 2006-11-24.  Biography spreads across 9 web pages. High School information is on page 2.
  9. ^ "Hilary Swank tells all to Extra". United Press International. January 3, 2007. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  10. ^ "Hilary and Huncky Patrick Picture Perfect Premiere". Hello. January 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  11. ^ "Hilary Swank reaping rewards". Sydney Morning Herald. April 23, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Jamie Bell's life story put on screen". The Guardian (London). July 17, 2001. 
  13. ^ a b c Rebecca Leung (March 2, 2005). "Hilary Swank: Oscar Gold – 60 Minutes". CBS News. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  14. ^ Stuever, Hank; Booth, William (February 28, 2005). "At the Oscars, a 'Baby' Boom". The Washington Post. 
  15. ^ Freydkin, Donna (October 10, 2007). "Hilary Swank enjoying the scent of 'Insolence'". USA Today. 
  16. ^ "Hilary Swank to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". English.eastday.com. January 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  17. ^ Associated Press (January 8, 2007). "Hilary Swank gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-01-08. [dead link]
  18. ^ Sanford, James (January 5, 2007). "Swank brings credibility to 'Freedom Writers'". Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  19. ^ Roach, Vicky (March 22, 2007). "Hilary's all class". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  20. ^ a b Hart, Hugh (April 1, 2007). "Real scare for cast of 'Reaping'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-01. 
  21. ^ Hilary Swank: Light and Shade[dead link], interview with stv.tv, December 2007
  22. ^ "Hilary Swank to play Amelia Earhart". Variety. February 7, 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  23. ^ Dunham, Elisabeth (June 17, 1988). "Amelia Earhart's personal photographer recalls the shyness of his favorite subject". Associated Press. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs". audible.com. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Bereaved and Incited by Malaria". The New York Times. April 19, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Kelly Fremon -10 Screenwriters to Watch", by Matthew Ross, Variety.com
  27. ^ Fleming, Michael (December 5, 2007). "Swank sinks teeth into 'Fangland'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  28. ^ "Hilary Swank Defangs Fangland Rumors". DreadCentral. 
  29. ^ "Hilary Swank says 'we're still married'". MSNBC. January 17, 2006. 
  30. ^ "Swank is dating her agent". Contact Music. December 20, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-20. 
  31. ^ "Hilary Swank and John Campisi Split". People. August 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  32. ^ "Hilary Swank Talks About 'The Reaping'". Wild About Movies.com. April 2, 2001. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  33. ^ "Swank Risks Health For Roles". contactmusic.com. December 20, 2006. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  34. ^ "Hollywood stars fly in on Chechen leader's birthday". BBC. October 7, 2011. 
  35. ^ Elder, Miriam (October 13, 2011). "Hilary Swank 'regrets' partying with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  36. ^ "Russia: Celebrities Should Refuse Pay for Chechnya Gala". Human Rights Watch. October 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  37. ^ "Hilary Swank apologizes". Human Rights Foundation. October 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-14. [dead link]
  38. ^ "Hilary Swank Will Donate Chechen Cash To Charity". Huffington Post. October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 

External links[edit]