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If you like Hilary Swank's story, you might also like:
Julie Andrews,
Carol Burnett,
Olivia de Havilland,
Whoopi Goldberg,
Ron Howard,
Jeremy Irons,
James Earl Jones,
Naomi Judd,
Sidney Poitier
and Barry Scheck

Hilary Swank can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Hilary Swank's recommended reading: To Kill a Mockingbird

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New York Times
Hetrick-Martin Institute
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Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank
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Hilary Swank Interview (page: 3 / 8)

Two Oscars for Best Actress

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  Hilary Swank

What have you taken away from that experience? You still look very strong. Have you maintained some of that?

Hilary Swank Interview Photo
Hilary Swank: No. To drop weight and to lose that muscle, you just virtually stop lifting. Muscle memory, as everyone says, is really a powerful thing, and if I started lifting again, I'm sure that I could put it right back on, but it's not how I choose to look. I'm a big proponent of exercise. I don't exercise to look a certain way. I exercise for the mind-body connection. It's a very important part of my life, for my stress, for overall well-being. I have to have it in my life, and it makes me feel great, and it's helped me through a lot of difficult times in my life.

What do you do for exercise now?

Hilary Swank: I run. I do Pilates. I swim. I bike. I'm a big outdoor person. I love the outdoors. So any time I can run or hike, I do that. I was not a runner at any point in my life, but because boxing was the most difficult thing I had ever done physically, it got my heart beating in a way that I didn't know my heart could beat, and I really longed for my heart to beat like that again, and running was really one of the things that did that for me. So I took up running.

You were injured on Million Dollar Baby, weren't you? You had a Staph infection.

Hilary Swank: I got a blister, the size of my palm, on my right foot from pivoting, and it was really swollen, and I couldn't train and walk on it. So I popped it myself, and it got infected. It turned into a Staph infection, which I actually didn't know much about. All I knew was that I couldn't walk on my foot, and I was in an extraordinary amount of pain, and someone said to me, "You know, I've had Staph, and that might be Staph. Just keep watching it." Well, it didn't take that long. I went to bed one night and I woke up, and I had a streak up my leg, and they said, "Oh, you better get in. That's not a good thing."

That can be very dangerous.

Hilary Swank: Staph is very dangerous. When I got to my doctor's, he said, "Put your foot down. Stand up." Not on it, but to stand up. "Put your foot down. I'll be right back in." He came back in, and he said, "This is very serious. You have to stop boxing immediately, and you are going to stay right here." He drew a line on my leg, so it wouldn't go above that, because if that gets to your heart, you die. So if that infection makes it up to your heart, that's it. So obviously, it was devastating news to me that I wasn't going to be able to box, and I only had this limited amount of time. So he said, "I can't express to you..." I said, "I need to box. I need to box. Two days? Will it be over in two days?" and he said, "Listen to me. You have to stop. This is life-threatening. You have to stop. Just stop. Get your infection, until it's gone, and then you can go training again." So I took most of the advice. When I felt like the line was gone and it wasn't red anymore, I couldn't box still 'cause I couldn't pivot on it, but I was still doing weight training. My trainer would piggyback me to the gym, and I'd do everything I could where I wasn't standing on it. I was doing all my upper body and my sit-ups, and then he'd piggyback me back to my place.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Did the crew know? Did Mr. Eastwood know about the Staph?

Hilary Swank: No. I didn't tell anybody because I just didn't want it to hold anything up. I just didn't say anything. I didn't want people to stop the process. I felt like I was in a groove, and it was something that I was dealing with. I didn't need to worry anybody. He found out when I did my 60 Minutes piece with Mike Wallace.

Hilary Swank Interview Photo
Mike Wallace always finds out everything. Morgan Freeman was also amazing in that film. What was he like to work with?

Hilary Swank: Wonderful. Such a professional and also just an incredible work ethic. Getting the opportunities to work with people that I've admired my whole life is one of my big blessings that I'm grateful for. To work with them and grow, I just learned more about everything, getting that opportunity.

Clint Eastwood's performance was so moving in the film, too. What was it like seeing him direct himself?

Hilary Swank: I was wondering how it was going to be. I thought, "Wow, what a challenging role for an actor and a challenging job for a director. How do you do both?" I do feel like it was Clint's best performance, because at that age, he was still pulling cards out of his sleeve, doing things that you'd never seen him do before. He was emotional in a way that I feel like we've never seen him, and at the same time, being at the helm of this movie. How he did it all, I have no idea. To me, he's worthy of every accolade because of it.

There was a tremendous feeling of connection between the two of you in the film. Was that true off camera as well?

Hilary Swank: Absolutely.

Clint being this person that I've admired my whole life and certainly my whole career, it really mirrored our characters' relationships. I'm living this dream, I want this role, I want to work with Clint Eastwood. Maggie has this dream. She needs the help of this person to help get her there, and it was very, very funny how life can imitate art or vice versa. It was very, very similar to the relationship that we have and the relationship that the characters have.

You went from being incredibly physical to having to be still for the second half of the film. That must have been quite difficult.

Hilary Swank Interview Photo
Hilary Swank: More than anything, it was a reminder -- after all those days when I complained about getting up to use my body -- of the position I could have been in, or anyone can be in, where all of a sudden there's a big shift, and you're not able to use your body, and how easily we take our health for granted is what it did for me. Every time I got to get up out of that bed and realize that I hadn't broken my neck and I could still utilize my body was also a wonderful reminder to me to not take my health for granted and to use it. It's another reason why I use my body, and I treat it with respect, because I'm thankful.

That's a good lesson, too. Tell us about winning the second Oscar. Was that a surprise?

Hilary Swank: Yes. It's amazing to me that I've won. I don't know if it will ever quite hit me that it's really happened. It's such a big honor to receive, and I still feel like I am this girl from this trailer park who had a dream. I've been given the highest honor from people who I watched all my life, and who inspire me and move me. It's something that is quite amazing and leaves me really speechless.

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This page last revised on May 05, 2008 13:17 EDT
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