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About Hilary Ann Swank
Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American film actress. She has won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999) and as struggling waitress-turned-boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Swank was born 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. Her surname, originally Schwenk, is of German origin. Many of Swank's family members hail 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; 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”.
Swank made her movie debut in 1992 in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (film) 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."
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, 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 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.
Swank is also attached to star in the Hollywood remake of Intimate Strangers. In addition, it was incorrectly reported that Swank would play a lead role in, and produce, a film adaptation of the John Marks novel Fangland.
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."
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.
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."