“I started my career doing local theater. I think you just have to be happy with what you’re doing and even though I’m getting this opportunity as an actress to work in film, I want to make sure that I’m doing theater too because that’s what’s inspiring to me. Unfortunately it seems like I’m doing a movie every time that the play comes along that I think I could be a part of, but I believe in fate — I really think it’ll work out. I really love LOVE theater. It’s a totally different feeling; it’s just so different.”
• The Miracle Worker – (March 2003)
Hilary Swank as Annie Sullivan
Directed by Marianne Elliott
Cast Richard Poe, Mireille Enos, Stephen Markle, Skye McCole Bartusiak
Location Charlotte Repertory Theatre, North Carolina, USA
Young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute since infancy because of a severe case of scarlet fever, is in danger of being sent to an institution. Her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. Unable to communicate her desires, the isolated Helen flew into uncontrollable rages that terrified her helpless family. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a “half-blind Yankee schoolgirl” named Annie Sullivan to tutor their daughter. Through persistence and love, and sheer stubbornness, Annie breaks through Helen’s walls of silence and darkness and teaches her to communicate.
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“I think when you’re playing a real character you have an extra responsibility to do it really right, so because of that, I do extensive research. I really try and figure out the person inside and out. I read the lines, but I read in-between the lines and try and find the qualities in that person that makes them human and I hopefully try and bring that out in what I do.”
On her role In The Miracle Worker
She’ll play Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, in a four-month run of The Miracle Worker on Broadway beginning April 1.
It’s her first real foray into theater. So is Swank nervous? “You know,” she says, “that would probably be the right emotion. But I don’t feel it. I love a challenge, I love to put myself at risk. So here we go again.” For The Miracle Worker, I grew out my bangs so I wouldn’t have to wear a wig. I didn’t want to be onstage and, God firbid, my wig falls off!
• During Q&A session promtoing The Core she answered to a few questions about her Broadway Debut
Q: And then you started in on your play, “The Miracle Worker?”
HS: Right after the HBO movie, I took a couple of weeks off for the Christmas holidays. I didn’t go anywhere though. I came here. I came home. For some reason, all my jobs leave me filming everywhere but the place where I choose to live. I literally finished two days before Christmas and took some time off. And then started rehearsing for The Miracle Worker.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve done theatre?
HS: It’s going to be my Broadway Debut.
Q: How does that feel?
HS: Exciting. Exhilarating. Challenging. Scary. All the things I look for!
Q: Is this the next step in your career?
HS: Plays have always inspired me. The theatre has always inspired me. Seeing these actors just getting up there and baring their soles in front of you without an editor, without a cinematographer or a great camera angle, without the magic of film. I have so much respect for it. I just thought, this is another area of my craft that I haven’t explored fully and I’d like to get in and really figure it out. When I was working with Al Pacino [Insomnia] he was always talking about theatre and how important it was to him. That’s what got me going… I started thinking about it a little more. That I would love to explore that side of it and all that comes from it. Any new experience, hopefully, you grow from it and you take something from it that can help you in what you choose to do.
Q: What did you learn?
HS: It’s fundamentally different and yet exactly the same. There are different techniques, but it’s the same thing. It’s really interesting to figure out and get in and play with it. Something that would come across so clearly in a film just doesn’t on the stage. Just getting behind your choices and really committing because you don’t have the help of editing and cutting and all of that. It’s been a learning experience.
• The Jungle Book – (1983)
Hilary Swank as Mowgli
Location The Bellingham Theatre Guild, Bellingham, Washington, USA
Hilary played Mowgli when she was 9 years old at the ‘The Bellingham Theatre Guild’ in her home town, Bellingham, Washington and she did several plays at the local theatre.
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