In the American film industry today, actors don’t come much more credible or committed than Hilary Swank. This is a judgment that would be endorsed by almost everybody, including the voters at the Oscars, who gave her the Best Actress award for Boys Don’t Cry in 2000 and again for Million Dollar Baby in 2005.
Since this double triumph, Swank has moved in and out of the spotlight, dropping out of showbusiness entirely for a few years in the mid-2010s in order to care for her sick father. The film she’s discussing today, the independent science-fiction thriller I Am Mother, was shot in Adelaide in 2017 not long after she returned to work.
At the time, Swank was juggling two other projects, which coincidentally share with I Am Mother the theme of parents and children—the feature What They Had, where she starred as a woman whose mother (Blythe Danner) is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the TV series Trust, where she played the mother of kidnapped oil heir John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson).
“It was kind of a mad rush to get them all done around the same time,” she recalls over the phone from New York. “But it was definitely an entertaining ride.”
Swank’s performances suggest a highly focused, level-headed personality behind them, and this is borne out in conversation. Her tone is friendly and straightforward, her answers carefully considered, suggesting that she approaches being interviewed as seriously as every other aspect of her job.
“I don’t take roles because I see them as being Academy Award worthy,” she says when asked specifically about her past success and how it affects her current career choices.
While she’s grateful for the recognition, what she looks for are characters that will challenge her — that call on her to rethink how she walks in the world, as she puts it, in both a figurative and literal sense.
As she points out, in I Am Mother she plays a supporting though crucial role, given that she’s one of only two main cast members whose faces are visible on screen. Continue reading Hilary Swank says filming in Australia ‘almost like being on a different planet’