Swank in 2013
July 30, 1974
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Chad Lowe (m. 1997; div. 2007)|
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) and The Homesman (2014).
Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother, Judy Kay (née Clough), 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. She has a brother Daniel, who is eight years her senior. Many of Swank's family members are from Ringgold County, Iowa. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Clough (née Dominguez), was born in El Centro, California, of Mexican descent. Hilary's paternal grandmother was born in England; Hilary's ancestry also include German, other English, Swiss-German, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Welsh, and Dutch roots. The surname "Swank", originally "Schwenk", is of German origin.
She attended Happy Valley Elementary, Fairhaven Middle, then Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was 16. 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. When she was 15, her parents separated, and her mother, supportive of her daughter's desire to act, moved with her 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 because of her ADHD and lack of interest. 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”.
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 Chad Lowe, who would become her husband for a time. 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 2009 biopic Amelia that she also co-executive produced.
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.
While filming Quiet Days in Hollywood, Swank met actor Chad Lowe and they married on September 28, 1997. Their divorce was finalized on November 1, 2007. In 2007, Swank began dating her agent, John Campisi; they ended their relationship in May 2012.
On March 22, 2016, Swank announced her engagement to her boyfriend Ruben Torres, a financial advisor with UBS and former professional tennis player. The two had been dating since 2015. In June 2016, Swank's representative confirmed she and Torres had ended their engagement.
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 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."
|1992||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Kimberly Hannah|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Julie Pierce|
|1996||Sometimes They Come Back... Again||Michelle Porter|
|1997||Quiet Days in Hollywood||Lolita|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Brandon Teena|
|2000||The Gift||Valerie Barksdale|
|2001||The Affair of the Necklace||Jeanne St. Rémy de Valois|
|2002||Insomnia||Detective Ellie Burr|
|The Space Between||N/A||Short|
|The Core||Major Rebecca Childs|
|2004||Red Dust||Sarah Barcant|
|Million Dollar Baby||Maggie Fitzgerald|
|Iron Jawed Angels||Alice Paul|
|2006||Black Dahlia||Madeleine Linscott|
|2007||The Reaping||Katherine Winter|
|Freedom Writers||Erin Gruwell|
|P. S. I Love You||Holly Kennedy|
|2008||Birds of America||Laura|
|2010||Conviction||Betty Anne Waters|
|2011||The Resident||Dr. Juliet Devereau|
|New Year's Eve||Claire Morgan||Segment: Times Square|
|2014||The Homesman||Mary Bee Cuddy|
|You're Not You||Kate||Also producer|
|2015||Lauda: The Untold Story||Herself||Documentary|
|2017||Spark||The Queen (voice)||In post-production|
|Logan Lucky||In post-production|
|55 Steps||In post-production|
|1991||Evening Shade||Aimee Thompson||2 episodes|
|1991–92||Growing Pains||Sasha Serotsky||2 episodes|
|1992–93||Camp Wilder||Danielle||Main role (19 episodes)|
|1994||Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story||Patty Yaklich||Television film|
|1996||Terror in the Family||Deena Martin||Television film|
|1997||Dying to Belong||Lisa Connors||Television film|
|The Sleepwalker Killing||Lauren Schall||Television film|
|Leaving L.A.||Tiffany Roebuck||Main role, 6 episodes|
|1997–98||Beverly Hills, 90210||Carly Reynolds||Main role (season 8), 16 episodes|
|2004||Iron Jawed Angels||Alice Paul||Television film|
|2013||Mary and Martha||Mary||Television film|
|TBA||The One Percent||Laura Murphy||Filming|
|2015||5 Seconds of Summer||Jet Black Heart|
Awards and nominations
- "Hilary Swank Biography: Animal Rights Activist, Film Actress, Television Actress (1974–)". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved March 22, 2016.
- "Senate Resolution 16 – Introduced". The Iowa Legislature. April 19, 2005.
- "Hilary Swank". Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Hilary Swank Biography (1974–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
- "Hilary Swank Biography". Yahoo! Inc.
- "Dowling Family Genealogy Frances Martha DOMINGUEZ". Ancestry.com. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- "Interview". Inside the Actors Studio. 2009.
- "The Swank Family". Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Longsdorf, Amy (January 3, 2007). "Swank: Acting gave me sense of focus". TimesLeader. Archived from the original on January 10, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2007.
- Tiscali UK (2006). "Hilary Swank Biography". tiscali.film & tv web site. Retrieved November 24, 2006. Biography spreads across 9 web pages. High School information is on page 2.
- "Hilary Swank tells all to Extra". United Press International. January 3, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Hilary and Huncky Patrick Picture Perfect Premiere". Hello. January 5, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
- "Hilary Swank reaping rewards". The Sydney Morning Herald. April 23, 2007.
- "Jamie Bell's life story put on screen". The Guardian. London. July 17, 2001.
- Rebecca Leung (March 2, 2005). "Hilary Swank: Oscar Gold – 60 Minutes". CBS News. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
- Stuever, Hank; Booth, William (February 28, 2005). "At the Oscars, a 'Baby' Boom". The Washington Post.
- Freydkin, Donna (October 10, 2007). "Hilary Swank enjoying the scent of 'Insolence'". USA Today.
- "Hilary Swank to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". English.eastday.com. January 8, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2007.
- Associated Press (January 8, 2007). "Hilary Swank gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". The Mercury News. Retrieved January 8, 2007.[dead link]
- Sanford, James (January 5, 2007). "Swank brings credibility to 'Freedom Writers'". Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved January 6, 2007.
- Roach, Vicky (March 22, 2007). "Hilary's all class". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved March 25, 2007.
- Hart, Hugh (April 1, 2007). "Real scare for cast of 'Reaping'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 1, 2007.
- Hilary Swank: Light and Shade, interview with stv.tv, December 2007 Archived May 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Hilary Swank to play Amelia Earhart". Variety. February 7, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
- "Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs". audible.com. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- "Bereaved and Incited by Malaria". The New York Times. April 19, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- "Kelly Fremon -10 Screenwriters to Watch", by Matthew Ross, Variety.com
- Fleming, Michael (December 5, 2007). "Swank sinks teeth into 'Fangland'". Variety. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- "Hilary Swank Defangs Fangland Rumors". DreadCentral.
- Dominguez, Robert (March 28, 2000). "Hilary Swank's Long Journey To Hollywood". Daily News. New York City. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016.
- Lindenmuth, Kayy (March 31, 2010). "The Hottest Heartbreak Hairstyles: Hilary Swank". Cosmopolitan. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "Hilary Swank and John Campisi Split". People. August 20, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- "Hilary Swank Is Engaged!". E!. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
- "Ruben Torres: An Ace At Finance". Westside People Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
- Guglielmi,Jodi (June 6, 2016). "Hilary Swank Calls Off Engagement". People. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
- Webber, Stephanie (June 6, 2016). "Hilary Swank and Ruben Torres Split. End Engagement". Us Weekly. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
- "Hollywood stars fly in on Chechen leader's birthday". BBC. October 7, 2011.
- Elder, Miriam (October 13, 2011). "Hilary Swank 'regrets' partying with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov". The Guardian. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Russia: Celebrities Should Refuse Pay for Chechnya Gala". Human Rights Watch. October 11, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Hilary Swank apologizes". Human Rights Foundation. October 13, 2011. Archived from the original on October 17, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Hilary Swank Will Donate Chechen Cash To Charity". The Huffington Post. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Littleton, Cynthia (August 12, 2014). "Starz Orders Drama 'One Percent' to Star Ed Helms, Hilary Swank". Variety. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
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