Categories Articles & Interviews

Blythe Danner and Hilary Swank Soar in Caregiving Movie ‘What They Had’

issue of AARP The Magazine

At first, Blythe Danner and Hilary Swank seem utterly different as you watch them chatting together in a vast white room in Manhattan on a fine summer morning.
Swank, 44, a buff former high school gymnastics champ who grew up in a trailer park in Washington state, is direct, peppy, coachlike. “Make a choice about the optimism you want to bring into your life!” she exhorts us at one point.

The imperially slim Danner, 75, a Philadelphia banker’s daughter, is reserved and self-deprecating, even after a half-century of acting triumphs. Though she introduced her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, to acting, she says Gwynnie is the genius in the family. “She has such self-esteem and self-awareness, all the things I never had,” Danner notes.

Yet in person and certainly professionally, Danner has more presence and power than she admits to. She won a Tony award at age 27 and Emmy honors for her roles on the TV shows Huff and Will & Grace. Swank, too, has shone brightly in her career, winning two Oscars for best actress in a leading role (for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby). Continue reading Blythe Danner and Hilary Swank Soar in Caregiving Movie ‘What They Had’

Categories Articles & Interviews

AARP Announces First Ever Collaboration on Major Motion Picture “What They Had”

AARP today announced a collaboration with Bleecker Street on the release of “What They Had,” the upcoming film starring Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress Hilary Swank, EMMY and Tony Award winning actress Blythe Danner, with Michael Shannon, Robert Forster and Taissa Farmiga.

From first-time writer/director Elizabeth Chomko, “What They Had” centers on a family in crisis. Bridget (Swank) returns home to Chicago at her brother’s (Shannon) urging to deal with her mother’s (Danner) Alzheimer’s and her father’s (Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together. The film aligns with AARP’s caregiving social mission and brings awareness of the issue to a wide audience.

“AARP is working closely with the entertainment industry to help raise awareness of our demographic as well as the many key issues affecting Americans today,” said Myrna Blyth, SVP and Editorial Director of AARP Media. “Caregiving and dementia are central to the movie’s storyline. ‘What They Had’ will speak to our members and the many millions that are facing these problems every day.”

As part of the collaboration, AARP will help promote the film through its vast digital platforms and the AARP Movies for Grownups® program, which will offer 30 screenings of the film to members across the country beginning October 22. At the film’s conclusion, audiences will also be able to view a PSA, featuring writer/director Elizabeth Chomko and highlighting AARP caregiving resources.

AARP will also feature Hilary Swank and Blythe Danner on the October/November cover of AARP The Magazine, the nation’s most-read magazine, with more than 38 million readers. The accompanying ATM cover story provides an in-depth look at the actors’ own experiences with caregiving.

“We are thrilled to be working with AARP to bring Elizabeth’s film and this story to audiences,” said Andrew Karpen, CEO of Bleecker Street. “It’s a touching and heartfelt look at what many families face as they deal with a loved one’s decline.”


Categories Articles & Interviews

Hilary Swank on grit, love, trans rights – and her three-year screen break

Hilary Swank has already raced through a full day’s schedule before the LA restaurant where we meet has had time to switch its menu from breakfast to lunch. She has taken her father to a doctor’s appointment, held a conference call for her new clothing line, Mission Statement, and run to a meeting about one of the three TV shows she is currently producing, along with three films. “Constant everything!” she grins, looking casual and efficient in a sundress. She has arrived just in time to order a piece of salmon – to go. The two-time Oscar winner still has a lot left to accomplish.

Swank, 44, has been having a busy summer. If you haven’t seen her for a while, that is due to her making a necessary choice. Just before Christmas 2014, her father Stephen, a former chief master sergeant in the Oregon air national guard, underwent a life-saving lung transplant. For three years, Swank was his sole live-in carer, which meant saying no to Hollywood – or, as she phrases it: “I was saying yes to something else that I wanted to be a part of.”
Continue reading Hilary Swank on grit, love, trans rights – and her three-year screen break

Categories Articles & Interviews Trust

An episode with Hilary Swank: ‘I never watched television, not even as a kid’

Dominic Corry talks to double Oscar-winner Hilary Swank about her role as Gail Getty and other brave, strong women.

How did you approach the role of Gail Getty?

I don’t think there could be anything worse than your son [John Paul] being kidnapped because of the ideas of all that can happen, including death at any moment and, so, living in that constant horror … also I think that any parent has the fear or the feeling of “What’s my responsibility in this?” Any time that something happens and your child falls into some type of trouble, you think “What did I do to make that happen?”

Were you familiar with this story before you took on the role?
I didn’t know a lot about the Gettys until writer Simon Beaufoy gave me the books that he did his research on. So I was learning as we went along.

How about in terms of offers you’ve been getting?

I’ve played women with great depth, they’re really brave and they find their strength. I find that the women I’ve played have helped make me a deeper woman, and so I’m grateful for all those opportunities. I can’t complain but I think it’s slim pickings … when you think of the percentage of scripts that I get, a lot are male-heavy. Maybe there is a shift that’s occurring in that women are stepping in together to just be more solid in their shoes and to be speaking up about things that are important to them, and there are men supporting that. So I think it’s a really exciting time.

Working in TV now must feel very different to when you were on Beverly Hills 90210?

Little bit. Television is taking a lot of risks that movies don’t anymore, because they don’t have to worry about making their money back in the same way. For me, it was almost like doing an extended movie. In a two-hour movie, you say: here’s the character, getting to know her, then here’s the breaking point, here’s the get-up point, here’s some levity and wrap it up. In something that’s extended like this, you get to really play within all of those fields in a lot of depth, which is so human, it’s so nice to explore the gradations of those feelings and of those emotions.

Do you think television is serving female characters better than movies?
Maybe. I’m not really the one to ask. I don’t own a television. I’m not really an avid television watcher, and that’s obviously stupid of me because I’ve been told that that’s where all the great writing is and all the quality stuff I should be watching is and that I’d be getting a lot of joy from it. So I guess it’s time to change that and catch up. I have a lot of binge-watching to do.

Why did you give up your TV, if you ever had one?

I never watched television, not even as a kid. I don’t like to be inside, I don’t like it. I love being outdoors, I love being active, so for me the idea of going to a movie theatre is outside, and then I sit inside for a couple of hours and then I leave. I don’t even sit in my own house and do much there. It’s not that I’m not interested by the ideas that are on television. It’s just that sitting anywhere for too long isn’t interesting to me.

What is your earliest memory of television?

My parents owned a television so I do remember watching what I called “Walt Digsny” because I didn’t know how to say Disney … I remember watching some old Mickey Mouse things at a really young age.

So did the desire to act come purely from going to the movies?

The idea to act came from watching, yes, movies like The Elephant Man and The Miracle Worker and The Wizard of Oz, and seeing these characters who were feeling things that I was feeling. As a kid, you go to school and you think everyone’s happy, and that sometimes if you’re not, that something’s wrong with you. So if you see characters in movies feeling different types of emotions that you feel, you immediately have a connection. Exploring people is super interesting to me. My life has been so enriched by the characters that I’ve been so blessed to play, because it blows open my blinders of how I see the world – and that’s what I love about movies and stories.


Categories Articles & Interviews

How #HilarySwank Built A Modern Fashion Brand For The Modern Woman

Like many successful entrepreneurs, Hilary Swank is a doer. She solves problems rather than struggling through them. And the issue she’s fixing in this particular instance, is how women with busy lifestyles can navigate through every aspect of their day, from workouts to business meetings to social engagements, without having to change multiple times or just appear to be wearing fancy gym clothes. So the actress, producer and now founder, launched Mission Statement, a new line of luxe leisure clothing that merges high fashion and high performance.

The first time I met Swank she was showcasing the collection at a trunk show in New York. Friendly, relaxed and confident and wearing a dress from the collection, she looked like the living embodiment of Mission Statement’s goals, a successful woman whose outfit could easily transition from day to night. She explained that she’d picked the brand’s name because she wanted the line to truly support women’s ambitions and help them live out their own personal mission statements.

We talked a second time by phone from Los Angeles where she shared more about her inspiration for the line. Tired of the daily inconvenience of having to constantly change and even pack an extra bag in order to move comfortably through a typical day, she decided a new approach was needed. “I realized I wasn’t alone in this challenge and felt strongly that women and their activities were being so stereotyped and restricted.”

So Swank did her research and eventually assembled a small handpicked team of experts, all of whom saw the same white space in the market and what she calls “a very viable niche for a line that not only performs but meets the highest levels of taste.” Continue reading How #HilarySwank Built A Modern Fashion Brand For The Modern Woman