Release Date 1999
Hilary Swank as Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Written by Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen
Cast Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III
MPAA Rating R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use.
Available at Region 1, Region 2, NTSC, PAL
Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who’ve never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he’s one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana.
However, he’s forgotten to mention one important detail. It’s not that he’s wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena is actually a woman named Teena Brandon. When Brandon’s best friends make this discovery, his life eventually is ripped apart by betrayal, humiliation, rape, and murder.
Trivia & Facts
• Hilary earned $75 a day.• • Hilary was actually born in the same hospital as Brandon Teena.• • Hilary’s performance as Brandon Teena is ranked #83 on ‘Premiere’ Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
• To prepare for her role, Hilary Swank lived life as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages, cutting of all her hair and putting socks down the front of her pants much the same way that Brandon Teena did.
• Working title: “Take It Like a Man.”
• When Hilary Swank was living as a man to prepare for the role of Brandon Teena, she was so convincing that her neighbors believed that the young man coming and going from Swank’s home (Swank in male character) was a visiting brother of hers.
• Director Kimberly Peirce said that she used the same shots in the opening roller rink scene that were used in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when Dorothy first left her house and entered the land of Oz.
• Hilary won the lead role after hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. Told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and hailed from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was fibbing, and when Peirce later confronted her with the lies, she winningly responded: “But that’s what Brandon would do.”
• The title of the film is taken from a song by The Cure. A cover of the song also plays in the background at one point.
• Diane Keaton originally considered directing with ‘Drew Barrymore’ in the lead.
• All the actresses in the film (Chloë Sevigny, Alicia Goranson and Alison Folland) actually auditioned for the role of Brandon.
• Katherine Moennig auditioned for the role of Brandon/Teena.
• “And my hair grew back. But there were definitely moments when I was worried that I was gonna be stuck in this, like, somewhere-in-between boy-girl.”
• “When I was offered the film after I auditioned it was very important for me to be able to pass as a boy on the streets, so I lived my life for four weeks strapping and packing which meant strapping down my breasts and packing a sock in my pants. There was a total physical transformation, which entailed cutting my hair off”
• “When I read that script I thought, what an amazing role for an actress to play and to stretch myself artistically and I thought it was such an important story to share with the world. I just really wanted to be a part of it somehow. Later, it was scary because I was hoping I could pass as a boy, and because it‘s not just a movie. It‘s someone’s real life and his family is still alive, that was scary.”
• “I found myself feeling hopeless at times and very lonely and sad. People couldn‘t figure out what I was and if they couldn’t fit me into their stereotypical definition of a boy or girl, they didn’t want anything to do with me. Sometimes I‘d go home and just cry the whole day because I‘d realize that I was just an actress, but for people living out there like this, what a sad place. I was the same person I was when I had long hair. All I did was cut my hair, strapped and packed and all of a sudden I was treated differently – yet I was the same person with the same dreams and needs.”
• “I‘ve been very inspired from Brandon. He‘s changed my whole life. I‘ve also been inspired to live my dreams, to be myself and to live every moment. In society, everyone tells you what you should be and we‘re all trying to figure out who we are. Now I‘m living every moment fully. Brandon had a fuller life in those twenty-one years than a lot of people who live to be fifty. So I‘ve been lucky.”
• “I tried to find the humanity that transcended gender. I didn’t play Brandon as an alter male ego. I didn’t think it was a gender that I was playing – it was something deeper than that, a quality that we all have as humans.”
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