Categories Articles & Interviews

Hilary Swank: TV movies ‘Dying to Belong’ and ‘Terror in the Family’ were ‘like my acting class’

Hilary Swank is pleased that cable TV continues to give her movies such strong afterlives.

This month alone, the Cinemax channels are running both of the dramas that earned her Academy Awards for best actress — “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby” — and also are featuring her as part of the huge ensemble cast of the comedy “New Year’s Eve.”

And that’s hardly all: Swank also is evident in March showings of “Freedom Writers” (which she also executive-produced) on MTV, “The Core” on IFC, “The Next Karate Kid” on Encore Family, and her pre-Oscars TV movie “Terror in the Family” on The Movie Channel Extra.

“I appreciate all the opportunities I’ve had,” Swank tells Zap2it, “from my early television work until now. Some of that television work might not be the most astute material, but they were great chances for me to grow and to learn as an actor.

“I would never knock such an opportunity. I think it’s funny that those old movies-of-the-week are still playing, but they were like my acting class.”

To a degree, so was “Beverly Hills, 90210,” on which Swank spent much of Season 8 as Carly Reynolds, the single-mom girlfriend of Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering). She plays a parent again in her next television project: Debuting Saturday, April 20, the HBO drama “Mary and Martha” casts Swank and Brenda Blethyn as mothers prompted by personal tragedies to crusade against malaria.

Having just finished the big-screen drama “You’re Not You” and started work on “The Homesman” — which also stars two more Oscar winners, Tommy Lee Jones (the film’s director as well) and Meryl Streep — Swank probably won’t consider doing TV regularly again for a while. But she doesn’t rule it out completely.

“That’s a question I haven’t been asked for a long time,” she notes. “I would never say ‘no’ to anything, although I feel like I’ve found my medium in film. I like to dissect and develop a character, then do it and let it go. That’s why theater’s also not for me. I like watching theater and watching television, but as an artist, I prefer film.”

However, Swank allows, “I usually watch (my films) and go, ‘Arrgghh! I wish I could do it again! Now I understand how I could do it so much better.’ I like to break down a character inside and out, do it once and be done. Some TV shows go for 10 years, and there’s too much I want to do.”