Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American actress and film producer. She first became known in 1992 for her role on the television series Camp Wilder and made her film debut with a minor role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). She then had her breakthrough for starring as Julie Pierce in The Next Karate Kid (1994), the fourth installment of The Karate Kid franchise, and as Carly Reynolds on the eighth season of Beverly Hills, 90210 (1997-1998).
Swank came to international recognition for her performances as Brandon Teena, a transgender man, in Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry (1999), and as Maggie Fitzgerald, an aspiring boxer, in Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004). Both of her performances earned her critical acclaim, and she earned numerous accolades, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. +more She was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005.
Swank later ventured into producing with the films Amelia (2009), Conviction (2010), You're Not You (2014), and What They Had (2018), in all of which she also starred. Her other notable films include the television film Iron Jawed Angels (2004) and the feature films Freedom Writers (2007), Logan Lucky (2017), The Hunt (2020), and Fatale (2020).
Swank was born on July 30, 1974, 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. +more 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, and was of Mexican (Spanish and Native American) descent. Swank's paternal grandmother was born in England; her other ancestry includes Dutch, German, Ulster-Scots, Scottish, Swiss, and Welsh. The surname "Swank," originally "Schwenk," is of German origin.
After living in Spokane, Washington, Swank's family moved into a home near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington, when Swank was six. She attended Happy Valley Elementary School, Fairhaven Middle School, then Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was 16. +more 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 in 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. +more In California, Swank enrolled in South Pasadena High School, later dropping out. 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 that she became an actor because she felt like 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 in the 1992 comedy horror film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, playing a supporting role, after which she acted in the direct-to-video drama Quiet Days in Hollywood, where she co-starred with Chad Lowe, who became 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) as Julie Pierce. The role used her gymnastics background and paired her with Pat Morita. +more In 1994, she also starred in the drama Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story, as the abused stepdaughter who was protected by Donna (Jaclyn Smith). In 1995, she appeared with British actor Bruce Payne in Kounterfeit. In 1996, she starred in a TV movie, family drama Terror in the Family, as a troubled teenager. 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 from Beverly Hills, 90210 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 7%. +more She 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. Upon release, many critics lauded her performance, with Premiere listing it as one of the "100 Greatest Performances of All Time". James Berardinelli wrote at the time that Swank "gives the performance of her career". Her work earned her several accolades, including the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress. In an interview with Variety in 2020, Swank said that she felt a trans actor should have played the role, and had she been offered it today, she would have refused it, stating "Twenty-one years later, not only are trans people having their lives and living, thankfully, although we still have a long way to go in their safety and their inclusivity, but we now have a bunch of trans actors who would obviously be a lot more right for the role and have the opportunity to actually audition for the role. ".
Swank again won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress 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, aided by professional trainer Grant L. +more Roberts, gaining 19 pounds of muscle. With her second Oscar, she had joined the ranks of Vivien Leigh, Sally Field, and Luise Rainer as the only actresses to have been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress 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 to be the face of the women's fragrance Insolence. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the motion picture category on January 8, 2007; it was the 2,325th star presented. +more In 2007, Swank starred in Freedom Writers, about a real-life teacher, Erin Gruwell. 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 (2007), as a debunker of religious phenomena. Swank convinced the producers to move the film's setting from New England to the Deep South, and the film was 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, which she also co-executive produced through 2S Films, a production company she established with producer Molly Smith.
In 2012, Swank's audiobook recording of Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs was released at Audible. +morecom. In 2013, she starred in the television film Mary and Martha alongside Brenda Blethyn. In 2014, Swank played the lead role of Kate Parker, a woman whose life is shattered when she develops the degenerative disease ALS, in You're Not You. The film co-starred Emmy Rossum and Josh Duhamel. In 2015, she was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women.
In 2017, she appeared in Steven Soderbergh's heist comedy Logan Lucky, as Special Agent Sarah Grayson, alongside Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig, and portrayed lawyer Colette Hughes in Bille August's drama film 55 Steps. In 2018, Swank starred in and executive produced the Alzheimer's disease drama film What They Had, directed by Elizabeth Chomko. +more Also in 2018, she portrayed Gail Getty in the first season of FX's anthology series Trust. Swank was reported to star as Laura Murphy in Alejandro González Iñárritu's drama series The One Percent.
In July 2019, Swank was cast in the thriller film The Hunt, opposite Betty Gilpin. Before its release, the film's plot, about deadly violence between political liberals and conservatives caused controversy, after which its release was delayed by Universal from the original date of September 2019. +more Swank commented on the situation, stating: "No one's seen the film. You can't really have a conversation about it without understanding what it's about. " The film was released in 2020, and received mixed reviews. In September 2020, Swank portrayed Emma, an astronaut, in the Netflix science drama series Away, which was cancelled after one season. For both The Hunt and Away, Swank earned a total of three nominations at the 2021 Critics' Choice Super Awards.
On October 18, 2016, Swank announced that she is launching a luxury clothing line, Mission Statement. The collection includes jackets, tops, dresses, bottoms, sports bras and sweaters that are made of eco-friendly technical fabrics, priced from $125 to $1,150. +more Swank aimed to create clothing that is eco-conscious and devoid of large logos, saying in an interview with DuJour that "we believe in promoting the women wearing the clothes and not the brand itself, which is why there is no external branding. " The brand works with suppliers that follow strict environmental policies and sustainable production practices.
In July 2007, hair product brand Pantene, in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Research Fund, signed Swank to represent Pantene Beautiful Lengths charity campaign in 2008. The campaign encouraged people to donate their healthy hair to create free wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. +more Swank participated in Pantene's Million Inch Chain program by cutting her hair and donating it.
Swank hosted and co-produced a two-hour television special, Fox’s Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Special, which aired on Thanksgiving night in 2014. The show celebrated the human-dog connection and rescue dogs. +more In 2014, The Petco Foundation honored Swank for her animal advocacy work and, in 2015, she received the Compassion Award by ASPCA.
In 2015, Swank founded a nonprofit organization, the Hilaroo Foundation, which aims to bring at-risk teenagers and rescue dogs together in the hope that the two can heal each other. She was inspired to create the foundation after rescuing a dog called Karoo in South Africa.
In a January 2009 episode of +more_TV_series)'>The Office, "Prince Family Paper", the subplot of the episode is the office coworkers debating whether or not Hilary Swank is "hot". Swank referred to such discussions emphasizing the looks of women in Hollywood as doing a "disservice".
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. +more President", she reportedly claimed knowledge about Kadyrov saying, "I read. I do my research. " Following criticism from human-rights groups, that reported having informed her about the human rights abuses in Chechnya prior to the event and asked 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. She donated her personal appearance fees "to various charitable organizations".
In a 2020 interview with Health, Swank revealed that she took a three-year break from acting beginning in 2014 to help her father recover from a lung transplant.
She has been good friends with actress Mariska Hargitay after meeting on the set of television series ER. Hargitay was a maid of honor at Swank's wedding to Philip Schneider in 2018.
While filming Quiet Days in Hollywood, Swank met actor Chad Lowe. They married on September 28, 1997. +more They announced their intention to divorce on January 9, 2006, which was finalized on November 1, 2007. In 2007, Swank began dating her agent, John Campisi, but they ended their relationship in May 2012.
On March 22, 2016, Swank announced her engagement to Rubén Torres, a financial advisor with UBS and former professional tennis player. The two had been dating since May 2015. +more In June 2016, Swank's representative confirmed that Torres and she had ended their engagement.
On August 18, 2018, she married entrepreneur Philip Schneider after two years of dating.
On October 5, 2022, she announced that she and her husband are expecting twins.
|1992||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Kimberly Hannah|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Julie Pierce|
|1996||+more_Again'>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|
|2000||The Audition||N/A||Short film|
|2001||The Affair of the Necklace||Jeanne St. Rémy de Valois|
|2002||Insomnia||Det. Ellie Burr|
|2002||The Space Between||N/A||Short film|
|2003||The Core||Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs|
|2004||Red Dust||Sarah Barcant|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Maggie Fitzgerald|
|2006||The Black Dahlia||Madeleine Linscott|
|2007||The Reaping||Katherine Winter|
|2007||Freedom Writers||Erin Gruwell|
|2007||P. S. I Love You||Holly Kennedy|
|2008||Birds of America||Laura|
|2009||Amelia||Amelia Earhart||Also co-executive producer|
|2010||Conviction||Betty Anne Waters||Also executive producer|
|2011||The Resident||Dr. Juliet Devereau|
|2011||New Year's Eve||Claire Morgan|
|2014||The Homesman||Mary Bee Cuddy|
|2014||You're Not You||Kate Parker||Also producer|
|2015||Lauda: The Untold Story||Herself||Documentary|
|2016||Spark||The Queen (voice)|
|2017||Logan Lucky||Special Agent Sarah Grayson|
|2017||55 Steps||Colette Hughes|
|2018||What They Had||Bridget Ertz||Also executive producer|
|2019||I Am Mother||Woman|
|2020||The Hunt||Athena Stone|
|2020||Fatale||Detective Valerie Quinlan|
|TBA||Ordinary Angels||Sharon Stevens||Filming|
|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 Marten||Television film|
|1997||Dying to Belong||Lisa Connors||Television film|
|1997||The Sleepwalker Killing||Lauren Schall||Television film|
|1997||+more'>Leaving L. A.||Tiffany Roebuck||Main role, 6 episodes|
|1997-98||Beverly Hills, 90210||Carly Reynolds||Main role, 16 episodes|
|2004||Iron Jawed Angels||Alice Paul||Television film|
|2013||Mary and Martha||Mary Morgan||Television film|
|2018||Trust||Gail Getty||Main role, 8 episodes|
|2019-20||BoJack Horseman||Joey Pogo (voice)||5 episodes|
|2020||Away||Emma Green||Main role, 10 episodes|
|2022||Alaska Daily||Eileen||Main role|
Awards and nominations
|1993||Camp Wilder||Young Artist Award, Best Young Actress in a New Television Series|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Award Circuit Community Award, Best Lead Actress|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Chicago International Film Festival Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Gijon International Film Festival Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||National Board of Review Award, Breakthrough Performance - Female||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||New York Film Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Stockholm Film Festival Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Toronto Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|1999||Boys Don't Cry||Village Voice Film Poll Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Academy Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Chicago Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Chlotrudis Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Critics Choice Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Florida Film Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Golden Globe Award, Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Independent Spirit Award, Best Female Lead||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, Most Promising Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Molodist International Film Festival Award, best Full-Length Fiction Film||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||MTV Movie + TV Award, Best Breakthrough Performance - Female|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||MTV Movie + TV Award, Best Kiss (shared with Chloe Sevigny)|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||National Society of Film Critics Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Online Film & Television Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Online Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Santa Fe Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Satellite Award, Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role|
|2000||ShoWest Convention Award, Female Star of Tomorrow||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Southeastern Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2000||Boys Don't Cry||Teen Choice Award, Choice Breakout Performance - Female|
|2001||Boys Don't Cry||British Academy Film Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2001||Boys Don't Cry||Empire Award, Best Actress|
|2001||Boys Don't Cry||London Critics Circle Film Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2001||The Gift||Saturn Award, Best Supporting Actress|
|2003||Insomnia||Empire Award, Best Actress|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Award Circuit Community Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Award Circuit Community Award, Best Cast Ensemble|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Florida Film Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Iron Jawed Angels||Gold Derby Award, Best Lead Actress in a Television Movie / Miniseries|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Iron Jawed Angels||Online Film & Television Association Award, Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Phoenix Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||St. Louis Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Utah Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Academy Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Critics Choice Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Gold Derby Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Gold Derby Award, Best Ensemble Cast|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Golden Globe Award, Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Won|
|2005||Iron Jawed Angels||Golden Globe Award, Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||International Online Cinema Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Italian Online Movie Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||MTV Movie + TV Award, Best Female Performance|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||National Society of Film Critics Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Online Film & Television Association Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Online Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Satellite Award, Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role||Won|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture|
|2005||Iron Jawed Angels||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2006||11:14||DVD Exclusive Award, Best Lead Actress - in a DVD Premiere Movie|
|2006||Million Dollar Baby||Empire Award, Best Actress|
|2006||Million Dollar Baby||Jupiter Award, Best International Actress||Won|
|2006||Million Dollar Baby||Sant Jordi Award, Best Foreign Actress||Won|
|2006||Million Dollar Baby||SESC Film Festival Award, Best Foreign Actress||Won|
|2006||The Black Dahlia||The Stinkers Bad Movie Award, Worst On-Screen Couple (shared with Josh Hartnett)|
|2006||TV Land Award, Little Screen/Big Screen Star - Women||Won|
|2007||The Black Dahlia||Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award, Actress Most In Need of a New Agent||Won|
|2007||Walk of Fame, Star on the Walk of Fame - Motion Picture 6925 Hollywood, Blvd. +more||Won|
|2008||P. S. I Love You / Freedom Writers||Golden Camera Award, Best International Actress||Won|
|2008||P. S. I Love You||Irish Film and Television Award, Best International Actress||Won|
|2009||Amelia||Hollywood Film Festival Award, Best Lead Actress||Won|
|2009||Women's Image Network Award, Outstanding Actress Feature Film|
|2010||Million Dollar Baby||Gold Derby Award, Best Lead Actress of the Decade|
|2010||Gotham Award, Tribute award||Won|
|2011||The Resident||Fright Meter Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2011||Giffoni Film Festival Award, Francois Truffat award||Won|
|2011||Conviction||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role|
|2012||Conviction / New Year's Eve / The Resident||Yoga Award, Worst Foreign Actress||Won|
|2014||The Homesman||Boston Society of Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2014||The Homesman||Phoenix Critics Circle Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2014||The Homesman||Phoenix Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2014||The Homesman||San Diego Film Critics Society Award, Best Lead Actress|
|2014||Telluride Film Festival Award, Silver Medallion award||Won|
|2014||The Homesman||Women Film Critics Circle Award, Courage in Acting award|
|2014||The Homesman||Women Film Critics Circle Award, Invisible Woman award|
|2014||The Homesman||Women Film Critics Circle Award, Best Ensemble Cast||Won|
|2015||Bambi Award, Film - International||Won|
|2016||You're Not You||Jupiter Award, Best International Actress|
|2019||Locarno Film Festival, Leopard Club Award||Won|
|I Am Mother||AACTA Award, Best Supporting Actress - Cinema||Nominated|
|2021||The Hunt||Critics' Choice Award, Best Villain in a Movie||Nominated|
|2021||The Hunt||Critics' Choice Award, Best Actress in an Action Movie||Nominated|
|2021||Away||Critics' Choice Award, Best Actress in a Television Fantasy or Science Fiction Series||Nominated|