Conviction” is the true story of 18 years putting life on hold, studying law and fighting to free your wrongfully convicted brother from a murder charge. Its star Hilary Swank told me:
“Our worst filming was the full day Sam Rockwell, playing my brother, and I spent in prison. It was awful. Tense. Most difficult scenes. After 18 hours doing stuff in prison, we were wiped out. We said to one another: ‘Thank God that’s over.’
“Two days later director Tony Goldwyn told us, ‘Something to tell you. When we shipped the footage the airport X-rayed it. They were specifically ordered not to X-ray. The package was well stamped with ‘Do not X-ray.’ Well, they did and it’s all wiped. All gone. We have to do that whole thing over again.
“I’m not complaining. I’m grateful for my life. But, y’know, people like us just keep going. Doesn’t matter if you can’t or if you have a headache or whatever. You just keep going.
“I personally have difficulty keeping weight on, and for this role I had to add 15 pounds. My character, a single mom, hadn’t any opportunity to stay fit. For my own needs, I like working out. But to gain weight I stopped that. Besides, this was an independent film. Small budget. We filmed long hours, long days. No time to work out.
“Normally I only eat until I’m full. On this shoot, I kept eating more. Even when I was full, I’d eat more. With nowhere to go, the weight stays on you.
“Fortunately, I needn’t worry how badly I look in a movie. I always play characters so it doesn’t matter. I then see moments watching it that I think I definitely could’ve been better, and I remind myself what not to do if this sort of action comes up again.
“Another thing, I needed to develop a Massachusetts accent, which I worked on with a dialect coach for months. That, too, was hard-won.”
I asked her would she ever give up 18 years of her life to save a member of her family who was in a similar situation? And she says, “I’ve asked myself that 1,000 times, and I think the answer is I can’t believe I would.”
The Hilary Swank story we know. No money, encouraged by her mother, she now wears Armani, she has a live-in boyfriend plus a pair of Oscars.
“I actually live with a fear that all this could go away and, who knows, maybe I might become poor again. I’ve had that fear a long time. I put money away. I check for good deals, and when you haven’t steady work you’re always looking for job opportunities. So have I still that nagging fear? Yes. I’ve had it a long time. There’s a lot of fear in me that this could all go away and someday I’ll be back to nothing.”
IT just so happens that last night, Hilary Swank, this lady with very little to fear — along with Robert Duvall, Darren Aronofsky and James Schamus — received a Career Tribute Award from the Gotham Independent Film Awards at downtown Cipriani.