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Hilary Swank Bio
Swank made her film debut in a minor role for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before she made her breakout lead role in the fourth installment of the The Karate Kid franchise, The Next Karate Kid in 1994. 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 to 1998. Swank garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in the 1999 biographical independent film Boys Don’t Cry, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. She starred in Clint Eastwood’s 2004 sports drama film Million Dollar Baby as struggling-waitress-turned-boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, which won her a second Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actress.
She starred in other films, such as The Gift (2000), Insomnia (2002), Iron Jawed Angels (2004), Red Dust (2004) The Reaping (2007), P.S. I Love You (2007), Freedom Writers (2007), Amelia (2009), New Year’s Eve (2011), The Homesman (2014) and You’re Not You (2014)
Swank made her film debut, 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. Her first leading film role was in the fourth installment of The Karate Kid series, The Next Karate Kid (1994), which utilized her gymnastics background and paired her with Pat Morita. 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 as the abused step-daughter who was protected by Donna (Jaclyn Smith). In September 1997, Swank played single mother Carly Reynolds in Beverly Hills, 90210 and 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. To prepare for the role, Swank lived as a man for a month and reduced her body fat to seven percent. Many critics hailed her as the best female performance of 1999 and her work ultimately won her the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. Swank had earned only $75 per day for her work on the film, 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 and Luise Rainer as the only actresses to have been nominated for Academy Awards twice and won 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 and was the 2,325th star presented.
In 2007, Swank starred in Freedom Writers, about how a real-life teacher, Erin Gruwell, inspired a California high school class. Many reviews of her 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 horror film The Reaping, as a debunker of religious phenomena it was released on April 5, 2007. Swank convinced the producers to move the film’s setting from New England to the Deep South, and the film was being filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina struck. The same year, she also appeared in the romantic drama P.S. I Love You with Gerard Butler.
Swank portrayed the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart in the biopic film Amelia that she also co-executive produced. Filming began in summer 2008 in a number of international locations and Swank met Robert Bresnik, a San Diego artist who supported her role as Earhart by producing several photographic reproductions of the flyer, at Legoland. 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. In 2014 Swank played the lead role in You’re Not You, where she starred as Kate, a woman whose life is shattered when she develops the degenerative disease ALS. She starred alongside Emmy Rossum and Josh Duhamel.
Swank is attached to star in the Hollywood remake of Intimate Strangers. It was incorrectly reported that she would play a lead role in, and produce a film adaptation of the John Marks novel Fangland.
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