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Hilary Swank forum in Dallas

Does anyone attented it and can share story or pictures?

Actress Hilary Swank did a quick fly-by of Dallas Monday night, taking part in the Brinker International Forum series at the Winspear Opera House. The series, which already hosted Condoleezza Rice and will soon present Lisa Ling, Bob Balaban, Peter Guber, and Brett Ratner, among others, is designed to “demonstrate the impact the arts and culture can have on our world.”

Unfortunately, anybody hoping to gain much insight into how Swank approaches her craft were impeded by moderator Quin Mathews. Mathews, who hosts the weekly “Art Matters” on WRR 101.1 FM and owns Quin Mathews Films, might seem a natural to host such a forum given his long history as a supporter and maker of the arts. However, Mathews demonstrated a seeming lack of knowledge of Swank’s career and film in general on this night.

Mathews started the conversation with Swank’s most recent film, Amelia. Although this section was informative, it was obvious from the get-go that Mathews was ill-prepared, almost like he had no plan and was just thinking up random questions as he went. This became even more clear as the evening wore on, as he hopscotched back and forth through her career, never giving the conversation any kind of flow.

Swank took all of this in stride, even humoring Mathews when he showed an inordinate amount of interest in her role in The Next Karate Kid, which he said was the last film he saw before the forum. However, he also admitted he had never seen the original Karate Kid, with Swank having to explain to him exactly who Pat Morita was. Swank explaining aspects of her career to Mathews took up a good portion of the night; it’s one thing to get an interviewee to open up about her life, but it’s quite another to show that you know almost nothing about the person you’re interviewing.

Swank, who was personable, funny, and beautiful in a mid-length black dress that included a long train and sparkly shoulders (to complement her sparkly shoes), was still able to impart a few notable tidbits about her career, though. She said that she had to eat 210 grams of protein per day while making Million Dollar Baby, which included drinking 60 egg whites. Her love for Clint Eastwood, her director/co-star in that film, came through loud and clear — “He is grace, he is talent, he is handsome, he is a true role model.” She noted that her role as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry has probably had the most impact on her life, as she’s since gone on to become a spokesperson for gay, lesbian, transgender, and questioning youth in New York City.

Not surprisingly, she’s an avowed film buff (“I love movies … I LOVE movies!”), with the first three films she can remember liking being The Elephant Man, The Miracle Worker, and The Wizard of Oz. She connected to all of those films because she “related to the outsiders in those movies.” Swank says she has no immediate plans to write (“It’s not a talent that I have”), direct, or do any kind of theater. She also expressed puzzlement with Mathews when he asked if she could ever quit acting — “Of course I could … it’s just a funny question.”

The one-hour forum contained a lot of “funny” questions, with Mathews often seeming like he was stretching out the conversation in order to give people their money’s worth. The organizers of the Brinker International Series would be well-advised to find a moderator who has done his homework the next time around.

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