- July 30, 1974 (age 46)
- Actor, Film Producer
- Chad Lowe
- Judy Swank, Stephen Michael Swank
Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American actress. She has twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
Swank made her film debut in a minor role in the 1992 comedy film Buffy the Vampire Slayer before starring in her breakout lead role in the fourth installment of the The Karate Kid franchise The Next Karate Kid in 1994, alongside Pat Morita. 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 indie film Boys Don't Cry, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress and 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 Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
Her other films include, The Gift (2000), Insomnia (2002), Iron Jawed Angels (2004), The Reaping (2007), P.S. I Love You (2007), Freedom Writers(2007), the biographical aviation film Amelia (2009) and New Year's Eve (2011).
Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother, Judy Kay (néeClough), 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 Dominguez, was of Mexican (Spanish and Native American) descent, while Hilary's paternal grandmother was born in England; Hilary's roots also include German, other English, Swiss-German, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry. The surname "Swank", originally Schwenk, is of German origin.
After living 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, 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. 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 film acting debut in the 1992 film 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 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 and Luise Rainer and Katherine Hepburn 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."
She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 8, 2007. Hers was the 2,325th star presented.
While filming Quiet Days in Hollywood, Swank met and married Chad Lowe on September 28, 1997. They divorced on November 1, 2007.
In 2006, Swank began dating her agent, John Campisi. They ended their relationship in the summer of 2012.