Categories Articles & Interviews

Hilary Swank on fame, films and Mira Nair

Eat your heart out, guys! Privileged to be the only Indian representative at a gala soiree hosted by Emirates Airlines in San Francisco, our After Hrs correspondent hobnobbed with the movers and shakers of Hollywood including compere for the evening, actress Hilary Swank…

Your latest film Amelia is helmed by Indian director, Mira Nair. What was it like working with a female director and Mira in particular?
Well, to tell you the truth, I have worked with female directors in the past and I do wish they didn’t form such a small percentage of the Hollywood fraternity! But coming back to Mira, I play the American aviator, Amelia Earhart in the film, Amelia, where I had the good fortune of meeting Mira. We were so in sync with each other that by the end of this project, we could literally read one another’s mind and complete each other’s sentences. It was tremendous playing this role as Amelia was a woman far ahead of her times.

Being a two-time Academy Award-winner is something most actors can only dream about. How do you still stay motivated?
Many people are under the false impression that I walked into Hollywood and won an Academy Award (Boys Don’t Cry, 1999) for one of my first movies, but that’s not true. I have been an actress since 1992. So when fans comment that I am an overnight success, I say “it’s been one long night.” The truth is, after Boys Don’t Cry, I realised how few and far between the great roles are. I am beyond thankful for finding Million Dollar Baby…But the secret to remaining focused is not to rest on my laurels and keep working on strong roles with real integrity.

How has your upbringing helped you cope with your stardom?
I had humble beginnings because I grew up in a Bellingham, Washington, in a trailer park, the daughter of a salesman and secretary. My parents separated when I was 12, and when I was 15, my mom packed up our car and, with just $75, headed to Los Angeles. We lived in the car until a friend gave us a place to stay. My mom would say, “You can do anything you want in life, Hilary, as long as you work hard enough. Don’t take no for an answer.” She didn’t want me to be afraid of taking life by the reins.