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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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Hetrick-Martin Institute
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Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank
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Hilary Swank Interview (page: 7 / 8)

Two Oscars for Best Actress

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  Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank Interview Photo
That's an interesting decision, how seriously to take somebody's criticism. That must be very difficult.

Hilary Swank: It's very challenging, yes. I've had people in my life say, "When are you going to give up your hobby and get a real job?" There are many, many people who have their own ideas about how life should be and aren't proponents for people following a dream that seems difficult to achieve. "What's the point? An actor? You're not a brain surgeon, you know. It doesn't seem like an important job," or whatever it may be. Learning what to take in and what not to take in, at the same time not becoming bitter or angry or hardened, is very difficult, and it's something that still is a challenge for me. I've had wonderful success in my life, and when I'm invited to do things like this, it's a reminder that I'm living my dream, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't come with a lot of challenges still.

After I won my first Academy Award, I thought, "Wow, everything's going to change. I'm going to get so many offers, I'm not even going to have time to read everything, and I'm going to get all of these opportunities to work with people who inspire me and finally get real quality material." Yes, that was partly the case, but what I realized was my first role was a role where people saw me as looking like a boy. So that was their first impression of me. Well, of course, that's not who I am. I had long hair, and I'm a girl before I got the role, but I realized that that role, being everyone's first impression, that I had a lot to prove. I still had a lot to prove. They didn't see me as the girl next door or the funny girl or the pretty girl, and that I understand. And I didn't become angry about it. I said, "Wow, well now my job is to continue to go in, to meet people, to read things, to fight for things, to prove that I'm not just that, that I can be so much more." It's a constant, constant job. It's not easy for me. You know, even after Million Dollar Baby, there are still people who say, "Well, I don't really see her in this role," and I have to go in, and I have to persuade them and talk to them and tell them why I am.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

That's not all of the time, of course.

I get wonderful opportunities, but I think when people look at successful people, they think we have everything. But it's really important, and I wish it was something that I was really told when I was younger, that it's always a work in progress, and that you have a choice every day in how you want to live your life. I can wake up and rest on my laurels and say, "Oh, I have achievement, and now I'm just going to travel the world or whatever." That's a choice, but my choice is to continue to do what I love. I love what I do, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do it. So I wake up in the morning, and I say, "What can I do today to continue to live my dream?" Is it taking a class? Is it traveling? Is it taking a break, so that I don't burn out? Is it going in and fighting for the script that I believe in that they don't see me as? Is it learning more about the business side of it, so that I understand why they make the choices that they do? There's always something to learn, every single day.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

We've read that you like to ride the subway to watch real people being themselves, catching them off guard and learning about their mannerisms.

Hilary Swank: One of the things that I always remember my mother saying is, "Hilary, stop staring." I remember at a really young age, around six, watching people, to the extent of how they pick up their hamburger and how many times they chew. Little quirks, like in their head, or how they would communicate with the person they are with or not communicate, how they touch their child on the head. Just taking everything in. It was just something that was very interesting to me. Human behavior is very interesting to me.

To this day, I continue to observe, and...

I think that what can happen when people become famous is they really lose touch with people, because you become very insular, and there are reasons for that. There are reasons why you need security at times, and all of that is valid, but it also keeps you from being in touch with what you're trying to do with your craft. I find that sometimes you can watch movies, and you actually see a celebrity instead of an actor, and I just didn't want that to happen. I really didn't want to lose touch with my life as well. I didn't become an actor to become a celebrity. I became an actor, like I told you, to continue to learn about the human experience and about myself, and so I wasn't about to lose touch with that.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

I moved to New York after the success of Boys Don't Cry because I felt it was a cultural blender. That's how I describe it. You're in it together, and riding the subway was my choice of transportation.

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