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Q&A with Hilary Swank of “Amelia”

Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank stars in the biographical flight of “Amelia,” where she plays real-life pioneer aviatrix Amelia Earheart who captured the world’s attention and whose mysterious disappearance is still being cracked by historians till now.

Hilary Swank has a simple mantra by which she lives her life. “I don’t believe in boundaries for people,” she says. “I think we live one life and it’s so short and fleeting so if you’re not pursuing whatever it is that makes you happy, then what’s the point?”

It’s doubtless the kind of bold statement that Amelia Earhart, one she plays in the upcoming biopic “Amelia,” would have embraced and indeed the pioneering flyer lived her amazing life to the fullest, crashing through boundaries and smashing preconceived ideas about what women could achieve, and seeking adventure wherever she could find it.

Q: You’ve played several characters who have stepped into male worlds – like boxing – and now with the early days of flight. What do you like about that?

A: Well, I don’t believe in boundaries for people. I think we live one life and it’s so short and fleeting so if you’re not pursuing whatever it is that makes you happy, then what’s the point? I don’t think people should have boundaries put on them either by themselves, by society or by another gender because it’s our birthright to come into the world and experience life in whatever way we feel best suits us.

Q: You’re known for your very thorough preparation for your roles. How did you prepare to play Amelia Earhart?

A: Well, one of the most important things was to learn how to fly because obviously you don’t play Amelia Earhart and not learn how to fly. I think she might be upset about that. So I learned how to fly.

Q: And presumably taking on someone who has actually existed is a greater challenge?

A: Definitely. Everyone has an idea about Amelia. Her images are all over the place. She was a style icon, and we all have an idea of who she was so that was particularly challenging That’s definitely part of the challenge I think in playing someone who’s lived, is that everyone has an idea, especially someone like Amelia.

Q: How has life changed after two Oscars?

A: I think the interesting thing is, it’s the pressure you put on yourself. For me it was not after “Million Dollar Baby,” but after “Boys Don’t Cry.” When you win an Academy Award and you are so young and you aren’t known for anything else really, except for that one film, you think ‘where do I go from here?’ And so you put this enormous pressure on yourself to try and be bigger and better so you know, you can’t mess up now. And it’s just never going to happen because you are going to make mistakes. And that’s great because I have so much I still feel I can learn and achieve and I don’t ever want to rest on my laurels and say ‘yeah, it will be easy from here.’

Q: What do you do to keep yourself grounded and keep perspective?

A: I have great friends around me and a wonderful family, and I think that my background, where I come from and how I grew up, is not something I forget. It helps me to not take what I have for granted. I really appreciate that I get to travel and see the world and that I can pay my bills. It’s an incredible feeling to say that I can actually buy that pair of shoes and get my groceries and I don’t take that for granted. I don’t ever forget it and I appreciate a sale as much as the next person. I think about how I’m spending my money and I like to spend my money on my family.

Q: Much has been made of the fact that you lived in a trailer park for a while when you were a child. What do you remember of that time?

A: For me when people say ‘wow, you grew up in a trailer park!’ but it didn’t feel like that. It didn’t feel like ‘well, poor me, I’m in a trailer park..’ It wasn’t a bad experience. I had a roof over my head and I had food so it wasn’t that being poor and having those experiences was a negative.

“Amelia” opens December 2 in local theatres from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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