Hilary Swank Biography (1974-)

Hillary_Swank. Born July 30, 1974, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Raised in Bellingham, Washington, Swank moved to Los Angeles when she was 16 and promptly landed her first acting job, a guest appearance on the syndicated sitcom Harry and the Hendersons. Her television acting portfolio grew, with an appearance on ABC’s hit sitcom Growing Pains and a regular gig on the ABC comedy series Camp Wilder (1992-93). After making her big screen debut in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Swank landed the lead in The Next Karate Kid (1994), the fourth and least-well-known of the Karate Kid series.

Over the next several years, Swank’s film work was limited to straight-to-video releases (Sometimes They Come Back…Again and Kounterfeit, both 1996) and poorly rated TV movies (1996’s Terror in the Family and 1997’s Dying to Belong). Beginning in 1997, she appeared for one season on Fox’s Beverly Hills, 90210, playing a young single mother.

In 1999, Swank’s relatively unknown status helped her land the role of Brandon Teena (a.k.a. Teena Brandon) in Boys Don’t Cry, a film based on the true story of a Nebraska woman with a sexual identity crisis who is beaten, raped, and eventually murdered when her true gender is discovered. After extensive preparation—she reportedly created a male alter ego in order to understand her character more fully—Swank turned in a memorable and universally acclaimed performance, earning a number of critics’ awards, a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, and an Academy Award for Best Actress.

In 2000, Swank appeared in The Gift, also featuring Keanu Reeves and Cate Blanchett. Her 2001 projects included The Affair of the Necklace, in which she stars opposite Christopher Walken and Joely Richardson; and The Chambermaid, costarring Sandra Bullock. In 2005, she won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her starring performance in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. She starred in the films The Black Dahlia (2006) Freedom Writers, which opened in early 2007. Her starring role in the Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia (2009), also earned the actress high praise.

Swank married Chad Lowe, a fellow actor (best known for his roles on the acclaimed TV series Life Goes On and ER) and brother of actor Rob Lowe, in 1997. The couple separated in 2006.

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