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Date of Birth: 30 July 1974
Place of Birth: Bellingham, Washington, USA
Birth Name: Hilary Ann Swank
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American actress. Her film career began with a small part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and then a major part in The Next Karate Kid (1994), where she played Julie Pierce, the first female protégé of sensei Mr. Miyagi. She has become known for her two Academy Award-winning performances: first as Brandon Teena, a transgender man (FTM) in the movie Boys Don't Cry (1999), and a struggling waitress-turned-boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, in Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Judy Kay (née Clough), a secretary and former dancer, and Stephen Michael Swank, who was an officer in the Air National Guard and later a traveling salesman. She has a brother, Daniel. Swank's surname is of German origin. Her maternal grandmother was of Spanish and Shoshone Native American ancestry, and many of Swank's family members hail from Ringgold County, Iowa. Swank came from humble beginnings, particularly as a child growing up in a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington, to which she moved at age six, after having lived in Spokane, Washington. Swank has described her younger self as an "outsider" who felt that she belonged "only when [reading] a book or [seeing] a movie, and could get involved with a character," and was thus inspired to become an actress.
When Swank was nine years old, she made her first appearance on stage, starring in The Jungle Book. She became involved in school and community theater programs, including those of the Bellingham Theatre Guild, and attended Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was sixteen. Swank also competed in the Junior Olympics and the Washington state championships in swimming; she ranked fifth in the state in all-around gymnastics. Swank's parents separated when she was thirteen, 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 described her mother as the inspiration for her acting career and her life. In California, Swank enrolled in South Pasadena High School (although she later dropped out of school) and started acting professionally. She helped pay the rent with the money she earned appearing in television programs such as Evening Shade and Growing Pains.
Swank's 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 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."
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 hers 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 subsequently again won the Best Actress Oscar, and another Golden Globe, for playing a boxer in Clint Eastwood's 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, a role for which she underwent training in the ring and gained 19 pounds of muscle. Swank's success meant that she had joined the ranks of Vivien Leigh, Helen Hayes, Sally Field, and Luise Rainer 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 early 2006, Swank signed a three-year contract as spokesperson for Guerlain (a women's fragrance). 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 and executive producedFreedom 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 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 is also attached to star in the Hollywood remake of Intimate Strangers. In addition, it was reported that Swank would play a lead role in, and produce, a film adaptation of the John Marks novel Fangland.
Swank has said that she is "an actor, not a celebrity" and has described herself as a "homebody." Swank considers herself a spiritual person, though not a member of an organized religion. She has said that she is "athletically inclined" and that she "love[s] sports."
Swank developed potential health problems, including elevated mercury levels in her body, through certain preparations for her roles, including weight gain and loss for Boys Don't Cry and The Black Dahlia. 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." In 2007, Swank noted that she "feel[s] like in the last couple of years, I’ve really come into my own and a lot of that has come from figuring out who I really am and what I want in life."
Swank married actor Chad Lowe on September 28, 1997. The two met in 1992, on the set of Quiet Days in Hollywood, a direct-to-video film. Swank infamously forgot to thank Lowe during her acceptance speech after winning her first Oscar in 2000, and she spent nearly every public appearance afterward making up for it. Upon winning her second Oscar in 2005, Lowe was the first person she thanked. However, in January 2006, the couple separated. In subsequent interviews, Swank expressed hope that they could reconcile, but they announced in May 2006 that they were divorcing. In December 2006, Swank confirmed that she was dating John Campisi, her agent.
|1991||Evening Shade||Aimee #1 (1991–1992)||TV series|
|Harry and the Hendersons||Guest star||TV series|
|Growing Pains||Sasha Serotsky (1991–1992)||TV series|
|1992||Camp Wilder||Danielle||TV series|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Kimberly Hannah|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Julie Pierce|
|Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story||Patty||TV movie|
|1996||Sometimes They Come Back... Again||Michelle Porter|
|Terror in the Family||Deena Martin||TV movie|
|1997||Quiet Days in Hollywood||Lolita|
|The Sleepwalker Killing||Lauren Schall||Lifetime TV movie|
|Leaving L.A.||Tiffany Roebuck||TV series|
|Dying to Belong||Lisa Connors||TV movie|
|Beverly Hills, 90210||Carly Reynolds (1997–1998)||TV series|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Brandon Teena||Academy Award for Best ActressBoston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressChicago Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressChicago International Film Festival, Silver Hugo Award for Best ActressChlotrudis Award for Best ActressDallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressFlorida Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActressGijón International Film Festival Award for Best ActressGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture DramaIndependent Spirit Award for Best Lead FemaleLas Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best ActressLos Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressNational Board of Review Award for Breakthrough PerformanceNew York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress Santa Fe Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActressSatellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaSoutheastern Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressToronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actress Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
|2000||The Gift||Valerie Barksdale||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|Scary Movie||Girl in car|
|The Audition||Short subject|
|2001||The Affair of the Necklace||Jeanne St. Rémy de Valois|
|2002||The Space Between||Short subject|
|Insomnia||Detective Ellie Burr||Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actress|
|2003||11:14||Buzzy||Also executive producer|
|The Core||Major Rebecca Childs|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Maggie Fitzgerald||Academy Award for Best ActressBoston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association For Best ActressDallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best ActressFlorida Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActressGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture DramaKansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActressNational Society of Film Critics Award for Best ActressPhoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best ActressSatellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaSant Jordi Awards for Best ActressScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actress Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
|Red Dust||Sarah Barcant|
|Iron Jawed Angels||Alice Paul||TV movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
|2006||The Black Dahlia||Madeleine Linscott|
|2007||Freedom Writers||Erin Gruwell||Also executive producer|
|The Reaping||Professor Katherine Winter|
|P. S. I Love You||Holly Kennedy||Irish Film & Television Audience Award for Best International Actress|
|2008||Birds of America||Laura|
|2009||Amelia||Amelia Earhart||Hollywood film festival Best Actress|
|2010||The Resident||Dr. Juliet Dermer||in post-production|
|Conviction||Betty Anne Waters||completed|
|2011||Falling Out of Fashion||in development|
|Fangland||Evangeline Harker||in development|
- Named one of "People" magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2000, 2004 and 2005.
- Cut off all of her hair and lived as a boy for a month to prepare her for her role as Teena Brandon in Boys Don't Cry (1999).
- She won the lead role of Brandon/Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999) after hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. Told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and hailed from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was fibbing, and when Peirce later confronted her with the lies, she winningly responded: "But that's what Brandon would do."
- Has been acting professionally since she was 16.
- Has a parrot and a cat named Tallinn.
- Competed in the Junior Olympics and Washington state championships in swimming; ranked fifth in the state in all-around gymnastics.
- Discovered as a young child actor by producer Suzy Sachs.
- Met her ex-husband Chad Lowe on set of Quiet Days in Hollywood (1997), married after 5-month relationship.
- Mother Judy Swank moved with her to LA area at age 16, where, impoverished for a while, they lived out of their car.
- Earned $75 a day for Boys Don't Cry (1999).
- Auditioned for the role of Lucy Hatcher on the television series "The Practice" (1997).
- Is of Spanish and Native American heritage.
- Hilary's 20th birthday party was a 1974 themed party and was held in Hollywood at The Crush Bar.
- She and husband moved into a 4-story brownstone home in Greenwich Village (NYC) they bought for $4 million. (June, 2002)
- Ex-sister-in-law of Rob Lowe and makeup artist Sheryl Berkoff.
- Although she was naturally athletic from high school, she totally changed physically to play Maggie in Million Dollar Baby (2004). She gained nearly 20 pounds, becoming so buff that her former clothes are still too small for her.
- Attended Santa Monica College.
- First woman to win an Oscar in a role as a boxer.
- Is the third youngest actress to win 2 Best Actress Academy Awards. Luise Rainer and Jodie Foster were the first and second, respectively.
- Joined Vivien Leigh, Helen Hayes, Sally Field and Luise Rainer as the only actresses with a perfect track record at the Oscars: Two nominations and two wins.
- Fined NZ$200 (AUD$190) for bringing undeclared fruit into New Zealand. She was found with an apple and orange at New Zealand's Auckland International Airport. She has since contested the fine (15 January 2005).
- Grew up in Bellingham, Washington, where she went to Sehome High School.
- Both of her Oscar-winning roles required huge physical changes.
- Though she's known for her dramatic work, she starred in several sitcom pilots for CBS that never amounted to much.
- Has 2 dogs: Karoo, a Corgi/Jack Russell mix, and Lucky, a German Shepherd/Labarador Retriever mix.
- Announced in January 2006 that she and her husband Chad Lowe are separating after 8 years of marriage.
- Her performance as "Brandon Teena" in Boys Don't Cry (1999) is ranked #83 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
- Replaced Sandra Bullock as "Maggie Fitzgerald" in Million Dollar Baby (2004) after Bullock dropped out for other commitments.
- Formerly a vegetarian.
- Studies acting with Larry Moss.
- Received a cut on the forehead during filming a scene of her movie P.S. I Love You (2007). She had to be brought to a hospital and received several stitches (November 2006).
- Awarded an Emery Award for her role in Boys Don't Cry (1999) (November 2006).
- For a few weeks before Boys Don't Cry (1999) began filming, she went out in public dressed as a boy. Many were fooled by the disguise.
- Was declared #6 on the show "Hollywood's Ten Best Beauty to Beast" transformations for the way she looked in Boys Don't Cry (1999). Three other actresses on the list were nominated for Oscars for their movies and two won: Charlize Theron (Monster (2003)), Halle Berry (Monster's Ball (2001)) and Salma Hayek (Frida (2002)).
- Received the 2,325th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (8 January 2007).
- Made her film debut in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992).
- Considers herself a spiritual person, although she isn't member of an organized religion.
- Her longtime companion has been her agent John Campisi since December 2006.
- Born to Stephen Swank, a Air National Guard officer, and his then wife Judy Swank, née Clough, a secretary and dancer, she has a brother, Dan.
- Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2008 Razzie Award nominating ballot. She was suggested in the Worst Actress category for her performances in the films P.S. I Love You (2007) and The Reaping (2007). She failed to receive a nomination however.
- As of 2008, she is only one of six actors who have a 2-0 winning record when nominated for an acting Oscar. The others are Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937); Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); Helen Hayes for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) and Airport (1970); Sally Field for Norma Rae (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984); and Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects (1995) and American Beauty (1999).
- Campaigned for the role of Christine Collins in Changeling (2008), but lost the part to Angelina Jolie.
- Attended South Pasadena High School, (South Pasadena, CA).
- Each time Hilary Swank has won an Academy Award, Annette Bening was nominated in the same category.
- Was in consideration for the part of Satine in Moulin Rouge! (2001) but Nicole Kidman, who went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, was cast instead.
- Got the role of Madeline Linscott in The Black Dahlia after Eva Green turned it down.