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Hilary Swank Says ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Would Be “Great Role For Trans Actor Today”

Hilary Swank has reflected on her role in Boys Don’t Cry two decades ago, saying changing awareness means she wouldn’t take the part today.

Swank won her first Oscar for the role of real-life transgender man Brandon Teena, murdered in a hate crime, in the movie which was released in 2000. She told The Times of London newspaper:

“Now for the most part, in most places, it’s accepted to be a trans person. [But] at that time, people weren’t even coming out as gay and lesbian, it was a career killer, or whatever. They weren’t ready to tell their family, or maybe they weren’t even ready to tell themselves. We’re in such different times — I feel like it would be a great opportunity for an actor who’s trans to play that role.”

Swank added: “But I also feel like actors are actors. We are supposed to play different people and I would like to hope trans people are getting the opportunity to play non-trans people as well.”

And she remains happy that the movie helped improve the public’s understanding of the challenges of trans people: “It was a jumping-off board to start a conversation that was needed, and we need this conversation to continue until everyone’s leading a safe life.”

Eddie Redmayne, who played real-life transgender woman artist Lili Elbe in the film The Danish Girl, has since said he wouldn’t take the part if it were offered today.

Swank won a second Oscar for her lead role in the 2004 movie Million Dollar Baby. She has made relatively few screen outings in the last few years, and tells The Times she continues to pick her roles with care:

“I like those transformative roles, the collaborative process of getting to that point, whether it’s with the hair and make-up people or a trainer, or whether it’s just walking in someone else’s shoes who is so different from me physically. It allows me to see the world in different ways. I’d be up for a role like that again, but they’re so few and far between.”