What the Hell Happened to Hilary Swank?

Hilary Swank 2013

Hilary Swank came from humble beginnings.  By the age of 30, she had won two Academy Awards for Best Actress.  But after winning her second Oscar, Swank’s career has stalled out.  Today, the two-time Oscar-winner is stick in direct-to-video horror movies and ensemble romantic comedies named after minor holidays.

What the hell happened?

When Swank was fifteen years old, her parents separated.  She and her mother moved from  Bellingham, Washington to LA to support Swank’s dreams of being an actress.  At first, they didn’t have enough money to rent an apartment.  So they lived out of their car while Swank’s mother saved up.

swank - growing pains

In 1991, Swank paid her dues on TV sitcoms like Harry and the Hendersons, Evening Shade and Growing Pains (pictured above).  On Growing Pains, she worked alongside Leonadro DiCaprio.  All that talent and Kirk Cameron too.

swank - buffy the vampire slayer

Swank’s first film role was in the 1992 version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The movie starred Kristy Swanson as the titular hero and featured Beverly Hills 90210 heart throb, Luke Perry, in a supporting role.

Expectations for the Buffy movie were high based on a clever script by Joss Whedon and Perry’s rabid fan base.  But the movie did not get the tone of the script right.  Whedon was so frustrated by the experience (and Donald Sutherland in particular who he hates to this day) that he left the set and never returned.  Eventually, he took the material to TV where he could give it his own spin.

The reviews for the movie were negative and it disappointed at the box office.

swank - karate kid

In 1994, Swank landed her first starring role opposite Pat Morita in The Next Karate Kid.

The first Karate Kid had been a surprise hit in 1984.  Columbia went on to make two sequels.  All three of the original films were directed by Rocky director, John G. Avildsen.  After The Karate Kid III disappointed in 1989, Columbia was looking for a way to breathe new life into the series.  Their solution was to give Mr. Miyagi a new student.  A younger student who they could pay less than Ralph Macchio.  And in hopes of attracting a new audience, they decided to cast a girl this time.

Avildsen was slated to direct the fourth movie, but ultimately dropped out to direct Luke Perry in the bull-riding drama, 8 Seconds.

Swank (who was a trained dancer) was able to learn the “flashy” karate moves, but struggled with the basics.  The fight choreographers awarded her a pink belt, a combination of an advanced red belt and a basic white.

Reviews were negative although Swank was singled out as a star-in-the-making.  The movie was the least successful of the franchise at the box office.  As a result, it was the last Karate Kid movie until the series was rebooted 16 years later.

swank - terror in the family

In the mid-nineties, Swank continued paying her dues in TV movies like Victim of Rage (1995) and Terror in the Family (1996, pictured above) in which she played a troubled teen who slaps her mom, Growing Pains’ Joanna Kearns,

You just got bitch slapped by a pink belt, Mrs. Seaver!  That will teach you to mess with the next karate kid.

swank - sometimes

In 1996, Swank appeared in the direct-to-video horror sequel, Sometimes They Come Back Again.

Sadly, she did not bitch slap Family Ties dad, Michael Gross.  She could have had an entire career in which she abused sit-com parents.  Look out, Meredith Baxter!

Next: Beverly Hills 90210 and Boys Don’t Cry

Posted on May 31, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 87 Comments.

  1. Danielle Charney

    It’s odd how someone as good looking and talented and in control of herself as Swank is- can fall victim to this difficult business- while I haven’t seen all her films- I’ve seen most of them – the only one I think she was wrongly cast in was Dahlia- but de Palma is famous for being odd- when someone with her abilities, who is no fool can be this batted around- it’s worth noting- I wish her well – if not another Oscar hit- at least some good parts she can shine in-

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    • I am fairly confident Swank has a long acting career ahead of her. Those Oscars mean she will always have people willing to hire her for the prestige she brings to supporting roles. She is great in the right role. But she struggles in between roles which are few and far between.

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  2. Although things can still turn around for Hilary, it’s sad that her career has cooled off recently. She’s not a no-talent party girl like Tara Reid, but doesn’t come across as condescending as Reese Witherspoon sometimes does.
    It’s also a shame that Hilary’s been in several films, such as “Amelia” & “The Resident,” which sounded promising but turned out to be bad.

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    • I think people expected Swank to be a leading lady based on the fact she had the lead role in Boys Don’t Cry. Million Dollar Baby is a lead too, but not THE lead if that makes sense. While Swank has the talent to be a lead, she tends to fit supporting roles better. I think she will probably do a lot more supporting roles in the future.

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  3. BTW, you didn’t mention that Chechnya thing. It may not have an impact on her career in either case, but she did make headlines for it.

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  4. She got Best Actress Oscars for what look like they would have been VERY difficult roles to play. What a great writeup this was! I agree she has lots of opportunity as a supporting actress, she is the definition of versatile and maybe her next Oscar will be for the right supporting role.
    “New Year’s Eve” would be NOT the right supporting role… wow. For once I agreed with the critics on that one. So much A list talent, and not much for any of them to do.

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    • Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry:

      http://oscarnerd.blogspot.com/2013/01/hilary-swank-in-boys-dont-cry.html

      Hilary Swank received a semi-surprise Academy Award for playing Brandon Teena, a brutally murdered transgendered teen in Kimberly Peirce’s first movie, Boys Don’t Cry. Although it was Swank who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, Annette Bening was expected to take home the Oscar for her performance in the smash hit American Beauty. I cannot find a sensible reason for this upset besides the simple fact that this was one of the rare occasions that the Academy voted for what they found the best performance of the year.

      I must also add that Boys Don’t Cry didn’t do that well in terms of Oscar nominations. The only other nomination was for Chloe Sevigny who, in my opinion, might have deserved to win (more than the actual winner, that’s for sure), but I somehow believe that Lana was the central character besides Brandon and she was leading as well. Also, I believe the movie was cheated out of nominations for both Best Picture and Original Screenplay (I know it was a very rich year, but this movie was way better than American Beauty or The Cider House Rules). I also admire Kimberly Peirce’s unshowy, but sharp and confident direction that really builds up all the tension until the horrifying ending with the help of a very strong and talented cast.

      That cast includes Hilary Swank who, as you know, is not, ahem, one of my favorite actresses as I find her performances overly affected and her performances are rarely honest, in my opinion. She’s so desperate to gain your attention and your sympathy and she’s actually quite skillful at that: she all does it under the disguise of ‘subtlety’. And yet in Boys Don’t Cry, she couldn’t be any more different: she portrays Brandon’s fears and desperation with brutal honesty and as a result, we get an incredibly mysterious and haunting performance that reveals its secrets in the course of the film, but it takes an effort from the viewer as well.

      Many people compare Hilary Swank’s case to Sally Field who also (unexpectedly) took home two Oscars for Best Actress after some time on television. I suppose people at the time must have been surprised that actresses with such backgrounds can be so thrilling in a serious feature film. However, I feel that all the comparisons end at this point: the actresses couldn’t be any more different from one another, in their approach to characters and the audience (and Sally will receive that third nomination very soon so that two out of two thing won’t apply, either).

      The character of Brandon Teena was Swank’s ultimate chance to prove herself to Hollywood and moviegoers after being fired from Beverly Hills, 90210. Although it could have been a showy fuck you to the team of Aaron Spelling with the label ‘I can do better than you’, instead Swank played Brandon with fierce honestly and courage as if she had nothing to lose. Her bravery and dedication to this character was exactly what this movie needed.

      Since Brandon was a mystery, the ego of a huge star would have ruined the performance entirely. If anyone wanted to display her skills in this part, she would have failed miserably because Brandon’s personality was all about concealing herself. For me, this performance was mainly effective because of all those repressed emotions of Brandon were so wonderfully communicated by Swank and that creates really disturbing tension that helped the movie have this very dark tone. Also, this is why I believe some people might be turned off by this performance. It doesn’t grab you in a traditional sense, there aren’t many actress scenes, it just leaves you confused and incredibly disturbed.

      However, I’d never say that Hilary’s performance made this movie overly depressing. On the contrary, the passion and sometimes playfulness that she displays on the screen provide us with rare moments of comfort and harmony. Naturally, the most tender moments of the film are the ones between Brandon and Lana, where the two actresses work together exceptionally. Their relationship is not the earth-shattering romance one would expect in a movie, it’s just these two people together, naturally, without much fuss. Their moments emphasize the romance instead of sex, even though that’s a part of it as well (which is handled delicately by both actresses).

      Hilary also handles the technical part of this performance wonderfully, nailing the accent, the faked deep voice. The physical transformation is almost frightening (no wonder people thought that Brandon was Hilary’s brother) and you see that it’s coming naturally. The Brandon/Teena personalities could be confusing to the viewer and yet it becomes the most clear thing for the viewer as Hilary totally identified with how Brandon saw himself.

      Still, the most shocking and disturbing parts of Swank’s performance come in the end, when Brandon’s secret is revealed to her environment, leading to torture, suffering and ultimately, the violent death of Brandon. The cool guy image that he built for himself is gone and he becomes a broken down, raped and abandoned woman (something he was terrified of). Teena being raped is one of the most terrifying scenes I’ve ever. Even in this very tough scenes, Hilary was able to keep as subtle as she was from the very beginning. One of the earlier scenes feature a humiliated Teena looking into the eyes of Brandon, which is a revelatory moment just as much for the audience as it is for him.

      And when you’d start to think that it couldn’t get better, Hilary takes it a step further when Teena is examined after the rape. All the shame and humiliation that she displays without much dialogue is just unbelievably wrenching and it’s also a powerful and shocking reminder of human cruelty (it’s funny that in about 45 seconds she reveals more about rape than The Accused in two hours).

      All this leads to an unforgettable final scene of Hilary, which is also such an effortless and beautifully played revision of that whole character: all the longing for a better life on his face before he’s shot to death makes the ending hurt deeply. Hilary plays with your emotions and manipulates them, but she does so as a result flawless acting and her shocking honesty, not tactics in acting, which was probably the hardest part of this role.

      In short, Hilary Swank gives a devastating and harrowing performance as Brandon Teena that stays with you long after you watched the film. Swank’s work here is unaffected, honest and she’s not as desperate to please the audience as she’s later in her career. Her fierceness is exactly what was needed with a character whose layers had to be revealed slowly and carefully. And thanks to Hilary’s harrowing characterization, Boys Don’t Cry becomes the masterpiece that it indeed is.

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      • Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby:

        http://oscarnerd.blogspot.com/2011/11/hilary-swank-in-million-dollar-baby.html

        Hilary Swank received her second Best Actress nomination and win for playing Maggie Fitzgerald, an aspiring female boxer in 2004′s Best Picture winner, Million Dollar Baby. Hilary Swank wasn’t considered a front-runner at the beginning of the awards season as Imelda Staunton or Annette Bening were expected to win their first Oscars. Imelda was the critics’ darling, Annette was the industry favorite. And there came the stupid Golden Globes that like to mix up things and give the edge to the stars (see Sandra Bullock) and then the SAG followed because (I guess) they wanted to make up for the Boys Don’t Cry loss of Hilary there. These two awards created lots of buzz and in the end, Hilary’s second Oscar became inevitable and she became one of the most hated actresses ever to win the award. Many compare this to Sally Field’s second win though I think the only similarity between them is that they both won two Oscars from only two nods (by that, you could even compare Hilary to Vivien Leigh so come on…).

        Although this was only my second watch of Million Dollar Baby, I felt I’ve seen it many-many times. In Rocky, The Fighter and the list could go on and on. However, Million Dollar Baby is the worst one of ALL of them. It’s obvious, overly sentimental, unoriginal, extremely manipulative and, above all, awful. Yes, in my humble opinion, this choice is one of the worst ones ever made by the Academy. However, it’s not Clint Eastwood who’s responsible for this. In my book, he’s a very good director and the directing is decent in this one but the screenplay and the story is just horrible (the screenwriter also penned Crash, just saying’). Morgan Freeman won an Oscar but what was exactly worthy about him? His bored narrations or tired looks? Three words: Thomas Haden Church. :)

        I admit that Hilary Swank is not among my favorite actresses. I am also quite pissed by the fact that she has not one but two Oscars when great actresses like Barbara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne and Glenn Close (though I hope she wins this year) never received Academy Awards. One just keeps wondering about the absurdity of Hilary’s two time Oscar-winner status, while such grand dames are Oscar-less. It’s a real shame, in my opinion. Let’s not kid ourselves: Hilary Swank is an obviously limited performer. She’s good at playing masculine women but apart from that I cannot really imagine her in other roles. Also her very obvious campaigning and Oscar baiting is something very annoying to me (in many ways, she’s like Melissa Leo).

        Because of the above mentioned things, it’s become quite chic and trendy to hate Hilary’s second win for Million Dollar Baby. But does that apply to her actual performance? I’ve seen tons of people hating her for winning but that’s mostly due to the fact that she won her second over Annette Bening and Kate Winslet. However, basically nobody talks about her actual work in Million Dollar Baby. To tell the truth, I didn’t have much recollection of her work before I re-watched her.

        Working from a terrible script, Hilary doesn’t really have much of a chance to shine, in my opinion. Sure, there are the Oscar scenes but I don’t see any real depth or emotion in them, just clear manipulation. On the outside, this role is a dream though it needs lots of hard work and dedication from the actress that I’ve actually seen from Hilary and yet the shallowness of the character didn’t let her show what she could have done with the part. Maggie Fitzgerald is a moving cliche, much like everyone in the movie. The movie wants to make us believe that her development is real, however, I don’t see any development in her at all. Even when her dream comes true, Maggie remains the very same person who’s really not transformed by her success. The elliptic story of Million Dollar Baby really hurts this character and Hilary as she doesn’t have the opportunity to develop her own character. Once we see her struggling and living a miserable, poor life and twenty minutes later, she’s fighting at a championship. We see Maggie only as “a girl from a trailer park who has a dream”.

        Hilary’s Oscar speech was particularly annoying to me as (after beating four way more deserving, fantastic performances from great actresses) she emphasized her cheesy sentence. “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.” Obvious and totally tasteless, she accepted in the manner of Maggie Fitzgerald. And you don’t get much else from her work, either, only cheesy, “seen that, heard that, been there, done that” monologues delivered with a very annoying accent.

        The movie’s (and Swank’s) obvious aim was to make us sympathize with Maggie and strangely enough, despite what I previously said, she succeeded on many levels. It’s impossible not to feel for Maggie when we see her eating other people’s leftovers and running at the beach, chasing her own dream. I admit being moved by her once or twice but I just felt so cheated, too. It was like “yeah, yeah, fine but not enough to win me over”.

        But again: what could Hilary do in this movie, where a great actress like Margo Martindale becomes a caricature? Nothing, but remaining what the screenplay intended her to be: a cliche, nothing more than that. She does the Oscar scenes the way she’s supposed to, she’s easy to sympathize with so what else can I ask for? Truth and honesty, no cheap, shallow emotions. I might be difficult to please (though I don’t think so) but this performance made me angry for many reasons and never because won the Oscar over the brilliant other nominees.

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  5. Hilary Swank’s Latest Goes Straight to DVD — Is Her Career in a Slump?

    http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/01/07/hilary-swanks-dvd/

    When news broke last month that Hilary Swank’s latest film, a horror movie entitled ‘The Resident,’ would go straight to DVD in the States many of us wondered what this meant for the revival of Hammer Films. The venerable British horror studio was a driving force in fright flicks in the ’60s and ’70s thanks to a barrage of classic films featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Things haven’t gone quite as swimmingly for the revamped Hammer – their first film, ‘Let Me In’ (a remake of foreign hit ‘Let the Right One In’), earned critical praise but sank at the box office. Now, ‘The Resident’ – a film with a 20 million dollar budget and a cast that includes Oscar winner Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Christopher Lee – can’t even land theatrical distribution. Those are two gigantic blows to a small company.

    That’s bad enough, but what’s even more troubling is what this says about the current state of Hilary Swank’s career. Swank’s place in the pantheon of great actresses seems assured (two Best Actress Oscars will do that…), but since she took home Academy gold for her 2004 performance in ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ it’s been a long, slow descent into cinematic mediocrity. In some ways, she almost feels like the female version of Nic Cage – only with a lot less scene chewing. A series of puzzling film choices mixed with blatant attempts to woo Oscar voters have left many wondering what’s going on in the Swank camp.

    We don’t have the definitive answer, but hit the jump to take a look at the trailer for ‘The Resident,’ Swank’s recent work and our attempt at figuring out how to get this classy actress back on track.

    After picking up her Oscar in 2005, Swank looked unstoppable – it was her second award in five years (the first coming for ‘Boys Don’t Cry’) and she was starting to give off that Tom Hanks vibe. Granted, she was never as easy to relate to as Hanks – an actor who has carefully cultivated an everyman persona that would have made Jimmy Stewart proud – but her ability to turn in engaging and pitch-perfect dramatic performances seemed a given. Swank was an actress mentioned every time the topic of best female film stars was mentioned.

    She didn’t appear onscreen again until 2006 – when she played a major part in Brian De Palma’s adaptation of ‘The Black Dahlia.’ Based on James Ellroy’s mesmerizing novel about the most infamous unsolved murder in Los Angeles history (at least until O.J. came along), it seemed like Swank had once again chosen well. Unfortunately, the finished film is a mess – overwrought, melodramatic and often unintentionally hilarious. (Hilary Swank is not the weakest link in the film’s cast.) Still, ‘The Black Dahlia’ was a failure at the box office – bringing in a measly $22 million domestically with a budget of $50 million — and Swank, the most lauded performer in the ensemble, couldn’t save the project.

    The actress looked to rebound from the disappointment of ‘The Black Dahlia’ with a turn in ‘Freedom Writers.’ This wannabe ‘Dangerous Minds’ finds her playing a teacher who inspires a group of disadvantaged (read: ethnic) students to learn to express themselves and be better people. No one expected an Oscar nod for this safe performance, but ‘Freedom Writers’ did actually turn a profit and earn positive reviews. Maybe things were picking up for Hilary.

    Or maybe they weren’t. 2007 also saw the release of Swank’s ‘The Reaping,’ a turgid Biblical horror thriller that left many fans scratching their heads. In Swank’s defense, ‘The Reaping’ had been made several years earlier and then languished on a shelf at Warner Bros. as execs tried to figure out how best to drop this cinematic stink bomb on unsuspecting audiences. ‘The Reaping’ earned $25 million domestically – almost all of it based on Swank and Stephen Rea’s names being attached to the film. However, the title was massacred by critics – earning a lowly 8% at aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. In some ways, it feels like ‘The Reaping’ was eerily prophetic of Swank’s current horror film situation. One film sat on a shelf for years, the other isn’t even getting the dignity of a theatrical release. If Swank does a third horror flick, maybe it’ll be a Lifetime Movie of the Week (something she’s also done – see 1996′s ‘Terror in the Family,’ which was a Hallmark production that turns up on the cable network regularly.)

    2007 remained busy for Swank. Her third film that year, the romantic tearjerker ‘P.S. I Love You,’ was once again slammed by critics (23% at RT) but did turn a profit. Yes, the films are making money – but these poor reviews are definitely starting to take the shine off Swank’s Hollywood Queen crown just a bit.

    It’s not really fair to judge Swank based on her appearance in 2008′s ‘Birds of America,’ mostly because no one saw it and because she appears to have had more of a supporting role – taking a backseat to Matthew Perry, of all people. The less said about this one, the better.

    After a string of critical beat downs, Swank returned to her quest to do important and serious films with 2009′s ‘Amelia.’ One generally sure bet to get the attention of Academy voters is to star in a biopic about some fascinating historical character, and who better than famed aviator Amelia Earhart? A film about a feminist pioneer who vanished while attempting to fly around the world sounded like a given for Oscar buzz. It wasn’t meant to be, though. ‘Amelia’ crashed harder at the box office than the title character did during her final flight (too soon?) and critics were unimpressed with the long and drawn out narrative that reduced Earhart’s achievements to a list of bullet points to be marked off as each was pinged on the screen. It’s at this exact moment that many film folks started to wonder what was up with Ms. Swank’s career. It’s one thing to appear in some bad films just to keep working and pay the bills – but ‘Amelia’ sounded like a slam dunk for the actress. To see it miss the mark so badly was definitely a cause for concern.

    Undeterred, Hilary took another swing for fences with last year’s ‘Conviction.’ In it, she plays a working mom who puts herself through law school in order to defend her wrongly convicted brother. Despite critical praise (the film is currently earning a 67% Fresh rating at RT), film fans haven’t turned out in droves to see this one – which is a shame, since it is a decent movie. Despite the praise and some awards chatter, ‘Conviction’ has earned less than $7 million since its release in October – leaving many to wonder if Swank’s string of less than stellar films has marred her otherwise remarkable career.

    Looking at the exhibits listed above, it certainly seems as though Ms. Swank is going through an extended career funk that could change how audiences – and studio executives – view her work. It would be easy to call bad films like ‘The Reaping’ little more than aberrations – and proof that Swank works better in meaty, serious roles than mainstream fluff. That being said, seeing her strike out so mightily in ‘Amelia,’ a film that should have been right in her dramatic role wheelhouse, is definitely cause for concern. Even more concerning is the actress’ next role, an appearance in what will almost assuredly be a disappointing sequel to rom-com ‘Valentine’s Day’ entitled ‘New Year’s Eve.’ Yikes.

    Before we write Ms. Swank off completely and consign her to the scrapheap of great actors who once were, let’s all keep in mind that her career went through a similar funk in the wake of ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’ Aside from a supporting role in Sam Raimi’s ‘The Gift,’ and a part in Christopher Nolan’s remake of ‘Insomnia,’ most of her movies were largely forgettable until ‘Million Dollar Baby.’

    So, now that the evidence is on the table, what can Hilary Swank do to right the ship? Maybe the more important question is what shouldn’t she do instead?

    Step one: Stay away from horror movies. We have nothing against horror flicks (several of us here at Cinematical love them, in fact), but Hilary Swank is not an actress who gets horror fans excited. When an actress with Swank’s stature turns up in a horror film, every horror fan immediately cringes because it can only mean one thing: a high concept studio horror film with no guts that wants to pretend it’s more of a thriller than a fright flick. Horror fans avoid that stuff like the plague. Ixnay the horror films from here on out.

    Step two: Lay off on the romantic comedies. An occasional foray into the genre is fine, but making several of them in the span of a few years is no good. You’re Hilary Swank, not Meg Ryan! Look, everyone’s got bills to pay and a romantic comedy is a quick and easy payday that allows Hilary to take less money for more important roles, but life is all about balance. Finish ‘New Year’s Eve,’ then give it a rest.

    Step three: Stop pandering to the Academy. After two Oscars, we all know Hilary is talented. If you’re a filmmaker with a role that calls for a female lead who can convey single-minded determination in a terrible situation, Swank is on the top of your list. It’s time to show us more, though. ‘Amelia’ was so obvious that the press releases might as well have been titled “Hilary Swank Takes a Role Solely Because it Should Win Her a Third Oscar.’ No one, not even the stodgy old voters at the Academy, can get behind something so obvious. Avoid the Oscar bait material and wow us with something out of left field – as long as left field isn’t a horror movie or a romantic comedy. ‘Conviction’ is good, but it’s too obvious. Think outside the box.

    Step four: If all else fails, fire your agent.

    That’s our take. What do you guys think? Is Hilary’s slump being overplayed? Can she turn this thing around and reclaim her former glory? Play agent and offer her your career advice in the comment section.

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    • Post-Oscar Underachievers:15 Academy Award Winners Whose Follow-Ups Did Not Hold Up:

      http://styleblazer.com/120232/post-oscar-underachievers15-academy-award-winners-whose-follow-ups-did-not-hold-up/4/

      Two time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank shouldn’t be on this list. But since being honored for Million Dollar Baby, the actress has been racking up a series of cinematic clunkers. Quite frankly, titles like The Reaping, The Resident, and The Black Dahlia failed to utilize the actresses talents like her Oscar darlings. She too will be descending into the ranks of made-for-television movies this year with Mary & Marcy, a drama produced by HBO and the BBC.

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      • It’s All Downhill From Here: Ten Actors Who Will Never Surpass Their Earliest Roles:

        http://www.pajiba.com/seriously_random_lists/its-all-downhill-from-here-ten-actors-who-will-never-surpass-their-earliest-roles.php

        Hilary Swank
        Seminal Role: Brandon Teena (Boys Don’t Cry)

        Oh, the Karate Kid franchise has taken down many, many careers. And though she started out as Girl Karate Kid, it was this dramatic turn that earned her her first Academy nod. She’s the reason I fear for Gabby Sidibe. Because Hilary Swank started snaggletoothing a number of performances and people just kept throwing accolades at her. Undeserved accolades. Like Julia Roberts level of undeserved. She was magnificent as Brandon Teena, but from then on out, she’s never yet been able to top that performance. I think we may finally see her dwindling away.

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        • “Oh, the Karate Kid franchise has taken down many, many careers. ”

          Has it. I think it has made more careers than it has “taken down”. I don’t think Pat Morita or Ralph Macchio ever would have been as big as they were without the Karate Kid. While it didn’t make them stars, it could only have helped Elisabeth Shue and Hilary Swank at that point in their careers. Even the remake helped give Jackie Chan some late career relevance. It may be the start of a backlash for Jayden Smith, but it gave him what will likely be his only hit as a lead actor.

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          • Perfectly said. i don’t know how many remember, but pre-Karate Kid, Pat Morita was a character actor known pretty much only for a small recurring role on Happy Days as a cook at Mel’s Drive In. He got a surprise Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Karate Kid, and a durable film career, even a couple of other lead film roles afterwards. Ralph Macchio was an unknown actor prior to Karate Kid. So was Elisabeth Shue. Karate Kid was a low-budget teen flick that unexpectedly became one of the biggest hits of 1984. Even Hilary Swank, later on in 1994′s Next Karate Kid was an unknown when she gained the lead. I can’t imagine how the Karate Kid franchise took down many, many careers when we’re talking about people that had no careers to begin with before Karate Kid hit big.

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            • Was just watching the original Karate Kid a couple of nights ago and it holds up pretty well to the test of time. Plus my kids saw it for the first time and were noticeably caught up in it after first pretending not to notice some old movie that Mom was watching. It also reminded me of the excellent MAD magazine parody that was done, wish I had saved those old issues!

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              • KK is a part of my teen years just like Superman and Star Wars are forever associated with being a kid. I can’t watch any of those movies objectively. I couldn’t judge whether or not the movie holds up well today because it transports me back to when I was a kid of the non-karate variety. It’s pretty simple storytelling and that usually ages well. So I can see why kids today would still be able to relate. Just talking about KK starts my Elisabeth Shue crush flaring up all over again.

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            • Exactly. I think what the meant to say is that most people associated with the Karate Kid franchise went on to success but their careers have since cooled off. Or maybe the author just doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. Which seems to be surprisingly common in a lot of these lists.

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      • 10 Actresses Whose Careers Went Downhill After Winning An Oscar:

        http://whatculture.com/film/10-actresses-whose-careers-went-downhill-winning-oscar.php/8

        Hilary Swank

        It may be odd to see a two-time Oscar winner on this list, but Hilary Swank has had an odd career. When she won her first Oscar, her career was on the rise, as expected. She starred in critically-acclaimed movies such as Insomnia and 11:14, and then took audiences by storm with her powerful performance in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby.

        At age 30, with two Oscars, it seemed Swank could not do anything wrong. But the films she’s appeared in since Million Dollar Baby have mostly been stinkers. If they weren’t complete bombs (such as The Black Dahlia, The Reaping, Amelia), then they were general disappointments. While her movie choices may not seem as egregiously bad as other actresses on this list, seeing a two-time Oscar winner star in mediocre movies for almost a decade just seems wrong, doesn’t it?

        She does not have many upcoming films on her slate, but let’s hope she still has more great performances up her sleeve.

        Like

  6. MOVIE JAIL: THIS WEEK’S DEFENDANT IS…HILARY SWANK!

    http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/movie-jail-this-weeks-defendant-ishilary-swank

    The Defendant

    Hilary Swank

    The Case

    The Prosecution: P.S. I Love You, New Year’s Eve, Amelia, The Next Karate Kid, The Reaping, The Core, The Gift*

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, how about we make this three weeks in a row for Academy Award winning actresses on trial? How about that? The JoBlo Movie Podast received a voicemail last week about how incredibly overrated Ms. Hilary Swank is. We did some digging into her case, and while we don’t find her particularly overrated, we do see a lack of quality movies over the years for an Oscar winning actress. A two time Oscar winning actress at that. How can someone who possesses such obvious talent make such poor choices with their career? Since her 2004 Oscar win for Million Dollar Baby, Ms. Swank has put out 9 movies with only 3 of those movies being certified fresh. We may be Movie Jail attorneys, but we’re bad at math, so we can only imagine that’s a bad percentage for Ms. Swank. 2007 seems to be her busiest year to date, releasing three movies, two of which were pretty damn awful: P.S. I Love You and The Reaping (more like the raping of my goddamn eyeballs). She’s also co-starred with two Movie Jail convicts: Gerard Butler and Halle Berry, so let’s face it, she’s been keeping pretty shitty company.

    The Defense: Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Insomnia, Conviction, Freedom Writers, The Black Dahlia*

    Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, what do the prosecutors have against Academy Award winners in this court of law? Or maybe they just hate women? Is the prosecution forgetting that The Gift was indeed a gift, giving the world its first glimpse at Katie Holmes milk cannons? What does that have to do with the defendant? Everything and nothing. Isn’t a two-time Academy Award winning actress allowed to take a break from the grind and have fun with the likes of New Year’s Eve and The Resident? We believe Ms. Swank has all the talent in the world to be one our stronger actresses working to date. When you look at movies like Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, you see the kind of versatility and commitment to excellence Ms. Swank brings to the screen, and we have confidence that it’s only a matter of time when she’ll find herself back in the big leagues. We’re asking the court to dismiss this case. If you can find find Kristen Stewart and Sandra Bullock not guilty (oops, spoiler, see below), then we can find Ms. Swank not guilty.

    IN CLOSING…

    So, what’s to be done with Hilary Swank? Is she indeed “overrated”? Does she need to be more picky with what roles she chooses? Is she pissing her Academy Award cred down the drain with her lack of consistency? And the most important question to be asked, once all evidence is taken into consideration, we ask you The Jury, is Hilary Swank GUILTY or NOT GUILTY? Let’s hear YOUR arguments, either side, by STRIKING BACK BELOW.

    *The court recognizes that all movies are subjective, so relax.

    WHAT SAY YOU, GUILTY OR NOT?

    Like

    • The Star Market: Hilary Swank Has Two Oscars, But What’s Her Value in Hollywood?

      http://www.vulture.com/2010/10/the_star_market_hilary_swank.html

      Only twelve women have won more than one Best Actress Oscar, and Hilary Swank did it before she turned 30. With that milestone met, she joined an elite group of actresses that includes Jodie Foster and Bette Davis, but even that exceptionally high level of praise from her peers hasn’t given Swank carte blanche to do whatever she wants in Hollywood. Unlike many actresses her age, the 36-year-old Swank is better suited for award-caliber dramas than romantic comedies, and while Hollywood is rough on women already, it’s even less receptive to the idea of building a mid-priced drama around one. Still, Swank has persevered, and her latest entry in what is quickly becoming a niche she owns the hell out of — fact-based dramas about downmarket outsiders overcoming long odds — is Conviction, which comes out today. (Read David Edelstein’s review here.) Can Swank make it back into Oscar’s good graces for a third time, or would she be better served to change things up? We spoke to industry insiders to answer the question: If Hilary Swank were a stock, should you buy, sell, or hold?

      Stock History: Swank’s career was launched when she won the lead in 1994′s The Next Karate Kid, and though it’s often noted how far she’s come from that early credit, it actually provided an instructive primer on how best to use her: Swank’s mentor-pupil relationship with Pat Morita in the film weirdly foreshadowed the entirety of Million Dollar Baby, and it established Swank’s athleticism and fierce physical commitment to her roles. As would often be the case throughout her career, Hollywood didn’t quite know what to do with an actress who was too strong and avid to play the ingenue, and three years after her Karate Kid coming-out party, she was fired off Beverly Hills, 90210. (When Swank would later win her second Academy Award, she said, “I don’t know what I did in this life to deserve this,” and we’d suggest that playing Ian Ziering’s love interest and getting fired for it was more than enough penance to pay for eventual Oscar gold.)

      Swank famously rebounded with her searing portrayal of murdered transsexual Brandon Teena in 1999′s Boys Don’t Cry, though her attempts to follow up that Oscar-winning role were uneven: She provided solid support in The Gift and especially Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, but the period piece The Affair of the Necklace sapped her momentum, and the misbegotten sci-fi film The Core squandered Swank’s inner action hero. Since her second Oscar win for Million Dollar Baby, Swank has mostly stuck to fact-based dramas, though they haven’t always served her well (Amelia and The Black Dahlia were two notorious flops); in fact, she had better luck branching out into romantic melodrama with 2007′s P.S. I Love You, which grossed $145 million worldwide).

      Peers: Though ahead of actresses like Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Swank’s got stiff competition in her preferred sector of prestige pictures. “She’s behind Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, [and] Reese Witherspoon,” said one top agent we spoke to. “And there aren’t that many commercial, great roles for a female year-to-year as it is. Being lower on the pecking order than those stars makes it that much harder. So, I think she’s picking the best stuff she can, but commercially, it’s all been very flat.”

      We ran Swank and her four closest competitors by E-Poll Market Research; intriguingly, while Swank scored better than all but Witherspoon on awareness, the other four actresses had higher appeal ratings (though it should be noted that all five had very low negative numbers in general, and their E-scores were in the top 5 percent of all those surveyed). Most telling is that Swank’s top attribute is “Talented” followed by “Physically Fit,” while the others score highest in categories like “Beautiful,” “Cute,” and “Classy.”
      Market Value: Why is Hollywood so afraid of female-led dramas? Swank may provide an important example: Though she’s won two Oscars, she only has a single domestic $100 million grosser to her name, Million Dollar Baby. Most of Swank’s other films range in revenue from $20 to $60 million, though her most recent, Amelia, was a pricey misfire that couldn’t even break $15 million. “She’s a woman without an audience, who’s a very, very good actress,” one manager told us. “But that means she may not have broad mass appeal, even if you put her in the right vehicle. Hilary Swank is not accessible to everyone. She’s not a ‘girl’s girl’ like Sandy [Bullock] or Julia [Roberts]. She doesn’t have the range they do. But P.S. I Love You was actually very profitable, which is why they still cast her as a lead.”

      What Hollywood Thinks: “I think she needs to do the kind of roles that Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster have done over the years,” recommended one top agent. “If you look at their careers, the choices they’ve made are slightly more commercial, and don’t require the sexuality of an Angelina [Jolie] or someone like that. The scope of their movies is bigger, too. Look at Contact, or [The] Silence of the Lambs, to pick two of Jodie’s movies: Neither required her to be sexy; in fact, she’s kind of boyish. And both appealed to a male audience.”

      One publicist we spoke to wondered whether her most iconic role had Swank’s team overcompensating: “She came onto the scene playing a boy [in 1999's Boys Don’t Cry]. Obviously, that’s still how people think of her, because she shows up on the red carpets with the lowest of low-cut dresses, she’s had Annie Leibovitz shoot her in bathing suits, and she just hasn’t been able to overcome that ‘boyish’ thing. And so I honestly don’t know what I’d do differently for her from a publicity standpoint, because I think they’ve tried to make her ‘sexy’ and help in areas where her image needed it, and it hasn’t worked.”

      “It makes one wonder, does that affect what kind of roles she gets, because marketing plans are so impactful on casting decisions,” the publicist continued. “In this market, everyone’s so scared of losing advertising, no one’s taking chances, which is why you see the same five people on magazine covers these days. But she continues to get magazine covers [Swank was on the cover of InStyle last month, and Elle next month] and that means she sells, and that people are interested.”

      How interested are they? We checked circulation figures, and while Swank provided InStyle with a slight bump in February of 2007 (in the period after Swank divorced husband Chad Lowe and started dating her agent, John Campisi), her typical magazine sell-through is in line with publication averages. Then again, for all the drama we get from Swank’s onscreen characters, her personal life has been relatively low-profile since the 2007 split; she’s hardly an Us Weekly perennial, and she’d probably prefer it that way.
      The Analysis: We know Swank can do drama, but can she be commercial? She may feel that films like Amelia and Conviction are more in her wheelhouse, but she risks a biopic glut — and rut. “Maybe she thinks Amelia Earhart is the most interesting thing in the world, and everyone wants to see it. Frankly, I don’t know,” said the publicist. “But her career doesn’t seem like in such a bad place: She’s won two Oscars, and there are only so many people who are going to have Reese Witherspoon’s career. I do think people think of her as a good actress.”

      The question, then, is whether she can parlay that respect into something more. While romantic comedies have never seemed the right fit for Swank, it’s sort of astounding that despite her athleticism, she’s never taken on a go-for-broke action-hero role or a part in a superhero movie. When Jon Favreau was shooting the first Iron Man film, rumors briefly circulated that Swank would cameo as someone from the Marvel canon; though that never transpired, it’s a tantalizing idea. If there’s a villainess yet to be cast in the Marvel mash-up The Avengers, Swank should lobby hard for the role — it might even give her a chance to tussle with Scarlett Johansson, providing welcome catharsis for their nearly career-hobbling turns in The Black Dahlia.

      Whatever the case, now is the time for Swank to change it up. “I think she works in that ‘plucky underdog’ thing, but I think she’s weirdly un-versatile,” sniffed one agent, and while we wouldn’t go quite that far — say what you want about her films getting same-y, but when Swank is in the right role, she kills — it’s clear that she is courting a perception problem. Whether or not she accepts a commercial action flick or digs into an utterly different supporting part in someone else’s film, Swank would be best advised to take a vacation from Oscar-baity dramas for a while. (Her perennial awards rival Annette Bening will thank her.)

      The Bottom Line: Though Swank is undeniably talented, films like Conviction aren’t going to take her career to a commercial next level. “This new movie is not appealing to a male audience, in part because it just doesn’t feel fresh at all,” said the agent. “We’ve all seen The Verdict; we’ve seen Erin Brockovich. And in Million Dollar Baby, too, the scope felt much bigger. But Conviction? I wouldn’t necessarily want to watch you go through law school. I mean, can I also watch you paint your room? Because making Facebook required guys sitting in a room writing thousands of hours of code, but that’s not what [Aaron] Sorkin made The Social Network be about.”

      Buy/Sell/Hold: Hold. Million Dollar Baby proved that Swank can never be counted out, but if she wants to do more than very justifiably rest on the laurels she’s earned from two Oscar wins, she’s going to have to surprise us.

      Like

      • File Swank under: Good actress that’s been in lots of mediocre or crap movies.

        And while this is an over-simplification, that is why Ms. HS is perhaps another bomb or 2 before a return to TV. Sure, partying with a vicious dictator didn’t help, but rappers and football players do worse stuff all the time and they still (unfortunately) have careers….but Swank was perceived by the public as a poor-girl-that-climbed-to-the-top and the “dictator incident” made her look like just another Hollyweird whore.

        Like

  7. Yes, Hilary Swank is pretty. But why do we care?

    http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/05/10/hilary-swank-pretty-radio/

    It’s the question that has long been dissected and cemented in pop culture, thanks to a memorable episode of The Office surrounding the topic: Is Hilary Swank attractive? Well it looks like the subject is about to be resurrected once again. During an interview with Swank on Los Angeles public radio station KCRW, Kim Masters spoke with the actress about other, older actresses’ struggles finding work in the industry, to which Swank responded, “I’m still young enough that I haven’t been feeling the brunt of that. Certainly, you hear about it … and you do see it, although you also see a lot more roles I think opening up for older women. I mean, Meryl Streep seems to be dominating.” Responded Masters: “Oh, but she’s… the exception… She’s not a pretty girl, and you’re not either.”

    Now, if you listen to the interview itself, it doesn’t necessarily sound as though Masters is labeling Swank ugly; she could simply be using “pretty girl” as a synonym for “girly girl.” And if Swank’s turns in The Next Karate Kid and Million Dollar Baby are any indication, it’s true the actress is anything but a girly girl. That’s at least how Swank responded to Masters comment (after joking remarking, “Hey, what are you saying?”): “Actually, I completely know what you’re saying. I play characters. I don’t play a movie star-looking type of person, which I prefer. I mean, who walks around looking like that anyway?”

    We could re-launch the Swank hot-or-not debate. (And I would argue that, yes, she is indeed good-looking. Exhibit A, B, and C.) But my real question is: Why in do Swank’s looks matter so damn much? Granted, I understand that beauty is often preferred in Hollywood — movies like, say, Out of Sight wouldn’t have hit so hard without the matinee idol looks of George Clooney and Most Beautiful Woman in the World Jennifer Lopez — but it’s certainly not the sole qualification for Hollywood actresses. Yes, it’s their job to continue to look movie-ready, but it’s also their job to act. And lord knows Swank can do that; the actress picked up two Academy Awards in five years. But perhaps that’s exactly why there’s a fixation on Swank, specifically: Most of her Oscar-winning contemporaries have long been lauded for their looks. (Some, even more than for their work.) When placed in a bunch that includes Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, and Natalie Portman, is it possible to avoid the hot-or-not debate amongst pop culture consumers? Is there some sort of bizarre higher standard for beauty when it comes to Oscar-winning actresses? (Heck, even Helen Mirren has been sexualized since winning an award for The Queen. Though, I don’t blame those who have been tempted to do so. Long live her!) And if that’s the case, where’s the Jeff Bridges vs. Sean Penn vs. Daniel Day-Lewis vs. Forest Whitaker debate? When can we expect to see a Parks and Rec episode surrounding whether we’d drop, date, or marry (EW’s a PG site, friends!) Philip Seymour Hoffman?

    So is Swank pretty? Yes. Should pop culture lovers continue to debate the topic? It’s a free country. But should it matter? No. Let’s not distract ourselves with pointless banter on the subject and instead focus on her body of work, not her body. There are more important Swank-related subjects to discuss. Like P.S. I Love You. What the hell was that?

    Like

  8. From Complex.com:
    The 10 Lamest White Savior Movies

    7. Freedom Writers (2007)
    Director: Richard LaGravenese
    Stars: Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Mario, April L. Hernandez, Kristin Herrera

    If there’s an actor’s handbook, this has to be one of the boldest-typed rules: When all else fails, play a fish-out-of-water teacher in a ghetto school. It’s the safest way to flex dramatic muscles, requiring very little heavy lifting other than rehashing the performances of every other respectable thespian who’s waved the metric ruler and hugged it out with schoolyard gangstas on screen.

    Following in the footsteps of Michelle Pfeiffer, Morgan Freeman, Jim Belushi, and countless others before her, two-time Oscar victor Hilary Swank used her awards clout to get Freedom Writers made, which is noble—you can’t hate on someone who champions a project meant to inspire kids and promote equality. But, with the all-too-familiar Freedom Writers, Swank and the filmmakers merely Xeroxed better (Stand And Deliver) and lesser (Dangerous Minds) versions of the same exact plot.

    Playing real-life teacher Erin Gruwell, who motivated a classroom full of Long Beach, Calif., ruffians (none white, mind you) back in the mid ’90s, Swank’s nauseatingly perky and upbeat; placed alongside her uniformly insensitive and cold-hearted teaching peers, Swank’s Gruwell is too on-the-nose. It’s like she’s Captain Save-A-Thug, beamed down from another planet to defy the school’s widespread cynicism.

    The 10 Worst Movies Starring Great Actresses:

    http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/09/the-10-worst-movies-starring-great-actresses/the-reaping

    The 10 Worst Movies Starring Great Actresses

    2. The Reaping (2007)
    The unfortunate star: Hilary Swank

    Before 2007, Hilary Swank was on pace to become the next Meryl Streep. Through her searing performances in Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), the powerful actress had earned A-list clout and, with that, the ability to pick and choose whichever projects she desired. It’s too bad that her sense of discernment had little in common with her on-screen talents.

    Freedom Writers, the cliched “white savior” teacher flick she both starred in and executive produced, waved the first red flag when it opened in January 2007. Three months later, something far worse arrived. In The Reaping, a silly, scare-free horror dud about the Bible’s plagues being unleashed on a small Louisiana community, underperformed at the box office while embarrassing itself before the unlucky few who paid to see it.

    It’s the kind of movie an actress makes when she’s trying to find her footing in Hollywood, hoping to prove she can lead a project, not when she’s looking to capitalize on a pair of Academy Award victories. Halle Berry must have watched The Reaping and said to herself, “Finally, I don’t feel so bad about Catwoman anymore.”

    The 10 Worst Biopic Movies Of All Time

    5. Amelia (2009)
    Director: Mira Nair
    Stars: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Joe Anderson, Mia Wasikowska

    When looked at as American tragedy, Amelia Earhart’s story is one of history’s creepiest events. The first woman to ever fly over the Atlantic Ocean alone (a feat she accomplished in 1932), Earhart was a highly ambitious pilot who thought she could commandeer her plane all the way around the world. Unfortunately, on the globetrotting journey, her plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, and her body disappeared. Basically, it’s one hell of an Unsolved Mysteries segment.

    As directed by the otherwise respectable Mira Nair, everything preceding the crash is comparable to watching Earhart take a two-hour nap in the cockpit. A better-suited filmmaker could one day present Earhart’s tragic life with an acute sense of underlying dread, which it deserves. Here, Nair and star Hilary Swank are way too concerned with making audiences fall in love with her, treating Earhart as if she’s Julia Roberts in period drama outfits.

    The presence of Roberts’ Pretty Woman accomplice Richard Gere (playing her publicist/husband) doesn’t help matters, either. Amelia spends far too much time dabbling in Earhart’s romantic dramas and hardly any examining her unique brand of pop star celebrity, or, as previously mentioned, what the f**k happened to her

    Like

    • Star Derailing Role:

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StarDerailingRole

      The Reaping put Hilary Swank’s career to a screeching halt. After scoring another critical flop with PS I Love You the same year, she tried to gain back some Oscar Bait with the biopic Amelia and the drama Conviction within two years. The former was a critical and commercial failure and the while the latter got good reviews and Swank was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance, it didn’t do that much money at the box office. Another movie she made, the 2011 thriller film The Resident went straight to DVD instead. Following a part in the poorly-received ensemble romantic comedy film New Years Eve, not much of her upcoming projects have been announced since.

      Like

  9. What are your thoughts on the controversy Swank suffered because of attending Chechen Republic President Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday party. If memory serves, her management dumped her shortly after the press latched onto the story.

    Like

    • Well, she doesn’t have a high school diploma. What do you expect?

      Ever see an interview with Anothy Hopkins? He can play brilliant, but he doesn’t come across as an especially smart guy when he doesn’t have a script full of big words. Swank is a talented actress, but she never had much of an education. Ignorance is to be expected.

      Like

      • Good point. We expect our stars to be smart, articulate and clever without realizing many of them are poorly educated and/ or sheltered. Take the script out of their hands and thrust them into a challenging interivew and you quickly find out their screen persona is exactly that…a persona.

        Like

      • “Well, she doesn’t have a high school diploma. What do you expect?”

        Yikes. Do you really mean this or were you just being sarcastic?

        Because you must know that just because someone doesn’t have a high school diploma doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent, especially if they’re dedicated to self-education.

        And on the other hand, that just because someone does have a high school or even a college diploma doesn’t automatically mean they are intelligent.

        I do, however, get the point about how actors can often appear more intelligent than they really are when they have a script to follow. (And I am in no way defending Ms. Swank’s actions in this case.)

        P.S. I’ve always found your writings to be respectful, which I appreciate. But I was a bit thrown by this comment because it seemed to have a bit of a snarky or elitist tone to it.

        Like

        • I’m glad you asked me to clarify. Because taken out of context, yeah, that comment sounds pretty judgemental. I know people without a college education or even a high school diploma who are intelligent. My comments were specific to Swank. She was living out of her car. She’s a child actress who made good. But she’s had no education whatsoever. I don’t expect her to understand complex political situations like the one she walked into. That doesn’t mean she’s unintelligent. Just that it is understandable that someone with her background wouldn’t necessarily be up on world politics. No insult intended. And I apologize if it came across as elitist. Definitely was not my intent.

          See, I have a college diploma and I can put my foot in my mouth as easily as Swank. ;)

          Like

  10. Yeah, we accidentally saw The Resident. Funny how RedBox is the source of most of our viewing mishaps.

    Like

  11. The dark turn “Million Dollar Baby” takes reminds me a bit of the one “The Beaver” takes, which makes me wonder if “Baby” would have been as embraced (let alone won those Oscars) if Clint had been the one to go ape$hit like Mel did.

    Like

    • The Beaver was something else, wasn’t it? Frankly, I don’t think Eastwood could have pulled off that role as an actor. Gibson’s performance was really amazing. Unfortunately, he had too much baggage. So it was hard for audiences to get past it.

      In addition, I just don’t think Foster was up to the task as a director. And I say that as a close personal friend of Foster who met her once. ;) That movie didn’t just change tones. It veered wildly from dismal drama to romantic comedy to farce. Sometimes it would shift gears mid-scene.

      I found it to be a fascinating train-wreck. And hey, what a cast! It’s definitely one of those movies that could have been great under different circumstances. Yeah, it could have been as successful as MDB with a more skilled director and a star that didn’t repell audiences.

      Like

  12. Hey, great blog and great portraits of actors who fell out of fame! Love reading this stuff. It’s also interesting to notice the differences in career perception from the US to here where I live (Switzerland, Central Europe).
    I read the WTHHT about Nick Cage, and I confim that he still is a box-office draw over here, although not an A-lister like Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks.

    Even Hilary Swank has not faded into oblivion, but from her we expect some strong art-house performance, not blockbuster stuff (to me she has not that kind of charisma and she is not the standard beauty you expect in such films). Honestly, after two Oscars I would have also tried to establish myself in the Hollywood A-list, but maybe the way to go for her is to become a “Cannes’ darling”, which to me is a much better bargain than starring in action or horror B-movies.

    But who knows, we tend to stress the importance of prestige projects and for her they were only steps in the way to superstardom.

    Like

    • Thanks for the kind words. I took care of the e-mail problem in this post. In the future, you’ll want to change how your name appears on your WP account to prevent that from happening again. If you post here, I’ll do my best to keep your private information from being displayed.

      The global market is becoming increasingly important. It’s creating a weird wrinkle where a guy like Cage is seen as a has-been in the US, but he keeps making movies because he remains popular overseas.

      As for Swank, clearly the mainstream projects haven’t worked out the way she would have liked. But the problem with prestige projects is that they have to really connect for anyone to notice. And fewer and fewer of those movies are getting made as the studios concentrate all of their attention on big tent pole movies. Steven Spielberg recently talked about the difficulties he had getting Lincoln made and how close it came to being an HBO movie. That’s where we are right now. Even Spielberg is having trouble getting prestige pictures released in theaters!

      Like

      • Now that is interesting. Makes me wonder if “Dances With Wolves” for example, would get greenlit today or have been relegated to a TV miniseries.

        Like

      • It’s me again, but now it should be better namewise… Sad, anyway, as Spielberg says, let’s wait that 5-6 big budget movies flop in a row, then we’ll see what Hollywood will do. The problem is: what next trick would attract audiences? Like in the 70s, maybe they’d scale back to quality movies…

        Did you know that Kim Basinger is still a living legend here because of 9 and 1/2 weeks and she was almost a selling point in 8 miles (ok, Eminem was bigger then)? Once they hit really big, we stick to them. I guess that American audiences are quicker to dismiss former-successful personalities, we are a bit slave to the Hollywood aura instead (possible explanation for the Nick Cage-singularity?).

        Like

        • I think you are right that European audiences are more loyal (in general) than American audiences. We are a lot more likely to toss an actor or especially an actress aside when we deem them “too old”. Basinger is a perfect example.

          I think part of Cage’s appeal overseas is that he makes a lot of action movies which don’t suffer from being translated into other languages.

          The situation Hollywood finds itelf in is really unfortunate. I’m not sure what they do next. Little by little, they have been shortening theatrical run times for the last several decades. They have been pushing to make all their money up front. They result is that they have trained audiences to either go opening weekend or wait till video.

          I don’t think 5 or 6 John Carters will change that. I think we have passed a point of no return. I do see more and more prestige movies going the HBO route like Stephen Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra.

          Like

  13. Don’t be suprised if Swank goes back to the TV series route,which seems suited for her talents,IMO!!! But for prestige
    flicks for women if your name isn’t Streep,Dench,Mirren or Sarandon,you’ll sometimes end up like burnt toast,to be
    honest!!!!

    Like

  14. There’s something wrong with “The Beaver.”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    More & more it’s looking like Swank is an actress that’s been INCREDIBLY LUCKY than incredibly good…”Amelia…” was nice-looking but dull crap (she and Gere had no chemistry AT ALL) and “The Resident” was MAJOR CRAP, the kind of junk that the Tara Reids of the world do on their (presumably) way-up the H’wood ladder, Plus, the incident where she wished “Happy B’day!” to one of the world’s worst dictators (for a nice fat fee) didn’t help — it made her look as if she were just another H’wood whore, and THAT puts a stain on her “I’m just a regular gal” appeal t probably everyone. (And I DON’T mean that “whore” comment because she is female — Bruce Willis is the same kind of “If the check clears, I’ll do it” kind of whore.)

    Like

    • Awesomely bad pun. Hats off!

      I really think the birthday incident was out of ignorance. Like I said, she isn’t the most educated gal in the world. I think she has talent, but she has to be in the right movie. And those kinds of movies – little independent films – are an endangered species in the age of tentpole movies. Also, she’s picked some real losers as you point out.

      Like

  15. Didn’t she say the immortal/immoral line in “The Core”:

    “Hot dang!” or was it “Hot damn!”

    Yeah, I’D PAY to see ANY movie that had a GOOD ACTRESS uttering such a “line”!

    HS would be best-served sticking to indie movies — true, they are an “endangered species” but haven’t they always been? Whenever HS tries to do more mainstream-type stuff, it’s usually GARBAGE — do the math. As for her not being all that educated, heck, Hollyweird is FULL of dumb people that do “smart-ish” things! All she had to do was do a google-search for “Moe Hailstone, beloved leader of Moronica” to learn he was MAJOR SCUM.

    Like

    • I have blocked The Core from my mind. I was dragged to it against my will with exceedingly low expectations. Although, the cast almost made it worth watching once.

      No there was a time when independent films thrived. In the 90s, they practically became mainstream with the success of Miramax. Those were heady days. Today, even Spielberg has trouble getting smaller films made. And he’s far from independent. I am certain indie films will continue to exist. But they will probably not be seen in nearly as many theaters as they used to be. More and more, they are going direct to video.

      I’m not giving Swank a pass for her blunder. Just saying I don’t expect her to be politically savvy. Her agent should have prevented that public relations nightmare.

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  16. Perhaps the reason Swank has ‘dropped off the map’ is because she’s a nightmare to work with. I can’t tell you which feature film I worked on with her (it could end up hurting me) but she and the director couldn’t stand each other. She came to work every day NEVER knowing her lines. She’s also of the school of acting (see Michael Douglas on Inside the Actor’s Studio) who believes you only have to “Act during your close-ups.” I’m not kidding. Michael Douglas said it best when he didn’t name names, but said it’s very unprofessional and unfair to the other actors to be of that school of acting, the not having to act unless it’s a close up. That being said, she must know something, she has won two Oscars.

    Like

    • re: she must know something, she has won two Oscars.

      Hey, do you remember who won Best New Artist Grammy in 1978 (maybe ’79)? A Taste of Honey, for their monster (but crap) hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” That “group” was a ONE HIT WONDER — one huge hit, still played on oldies stations, but they went back to the primordial ooze from which they came. Swank may’ve indeed won TWO Oscars, but almost everything else she’s starred in is mediocre or crap. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up in a sitcom with Mira Sorvino…or being her roommate for real.

      HOT DAMN/DANG!

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    • To a certain extent, I expect actors to be a bit narcissistic. It comes with the territory. I have two actor-types writing here and they are both such prima donnas! ;) But given Swank’s background, I don’t really expect her to be well adjusted. She’s under-educated. She went from living in her car to being a two-time Oscar winner. Of course she’s going to be all kinds of messed up.

      Having said that, if she was showing up not knowing her lines and only acting for the close-ups, those statues will only take her so far.

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      • A healthy ego is necessary if you’re going to stand up and expect people to sit and listen. Of course you’ll often find that many of these egos are paper tigers, put in place specifically to shield terrible personal uncertainty. How else could an actor be prepared to bare his emotions on demand without just being a total phony?

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        • Hey, I could never have done it, and maintain respect for those who do. It’s more than having the presence and confidence, I got a glimpse of the stage world in a high school workshop. It was more than memorizing pages and pages of lines. Knowing how to use the stage, working on the disconnect between what you think you are emoting, and what actually comes across….not easy. I wasn’t comfortable in that skin but loved doing the camera work and when it was my turn to direct. That should have been my true calling :)
          Flash forward years later. We are in a hotel in Los Angeles for a conference of my dad’s and they were filming a movie at the same hotel. Steve McQueen and Queen Latifah. Title escapes me. Anyway we’re walking towards the elevators, my daughter was 5 months along and my son was 5. The movie crew was finishing up some work on the set in the hotel lounge, no actors were present for whatever they were working on. Something to do with lighting they weren’t satisfied with. As we got close to the elevator area we ran into several of the crew and they chatted with us. Charismatic young men and women with that certain intensity, they were taken with my son and offered us a tour of the set. “He’s definitely got junior AD in him,” the AD said to us. Predictably, being 5 son was not all that impressed. I was overwhelmed by the amount of equipment they had in that relatively small lounge area… but oh did it bring back nostalgia for the dusty stage and my high school auditorium.

          Like

    • WHET to Hilary Swank?

      http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=13370084#page:showThread,13370084

      I guess she worked for the role in Boys Don’t Cry, but I find her utterly unappealing in everything else I’ve ever seen her in.

      by: Anonymous reply 9 11/12/2013 @ 08:03PM

      She truly is one of the luckiest actresses in the history of cinema: wins two Academy Awards despite being completely unable to open a film on her own. She stars in flop after flop after flop. She can’t even succeed in ensemble films — her last film, “New Year’s Eve” (2011), was also a flop.

      According to IMDb, she has 2 films scheduled for 2014: “You’re Not You,” an Oscar-bait drama about a dying woman (Swank) who bonds with her younger caregiver (Emmy Rossum); and “The Homesman,” a Western co-starring Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed) and Grace Gummer. Both will probably also flop. Nobody wants to see her in a film.

      by: Anonymous reply 13 11/12/2013 @ 08:57PM

      The thing is, she 100% deserved her Oscars. Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby were outstanding performances. She’s been horrible in everything else (although she was good in The Gift), but it’s the old adage that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      by: Anonymous reply 21 11/12/2013 @ 10:00PM

      No, she didn’t deserve her Oscars. Julianne Moore (The End of the Affair) should have won the 1999 Best Actress Oscar and Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) should have won the 2004 Oscar.

      Swank is a one-note actress with no presence and little discernible talent.

      by: Anonymous reply 24 11/12/2013 @ 10:21PM

      She should stick to more character-type roles and avoid the commercial leading-lady attempts (since they’ve all pretty much bombed) – as she gets older I can see her becoming a very accomplished character actress, and hopefully there’ll be some indie films that use her to better effect.

      So yeah, she wasn’t really cut out to be a box office maven – she’s just a bit too self-conscious and awkward a public figure – but she has definite talent, and whether you think she deserved her wins or not, she turned in two great performances with Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby.

      by: Anonymous reply 25 11/12/2013 @ 10:32PM

      The Black Dahlia was the beginning of the end for Hilary Swank…and maybe Brian de Palma, too (unfortunately).

      by: Anonymous reply 29 11/13/2013 @ 10:29AM

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    • Besides Eddie Murphy and Hilary Swank, who are the LEAST liked celebrities in Hollywood?

      http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=11045659#page:showThread,11045659

      [R1], from deadline.com

      She burned SO MANY BRIDGES and upset so many people that even if you are as talented as hell the frustration to work with someone like that is not worth it, that’s why!
      She’s not a pleasant person. in addition to bagging Weinberg, she’s fired at least two of her female agents while they were on maternity leave. Classy.

      When she was rep’d at William Morris, Dave Wirtschafter would always refer to her as Seabiscit.

      She gets terrible material because 1) everyone in Tinseltown HATES working with her 2) she has burned SO MANY BRIDGES 3) she is NOT SEXY, men and women do not want to sleep with her. She doesn’t get great movie roles because she has ruined so many relationships in Hollywood. Plain and Simple. She’s no Sandra Bullock when it comes to likability, sweetness and compatibility.

      by: Anonymous reply 12 11/19/2011 @ 07:27PM

      I assume the Swank hate began sometime after her second Oscar?

      by: Anonymous reply 16 11/19/2011 @ 08:43PM

      [R16] I was going to say the same thing.

      She’s not a great actress, but I can picture some in Hollywood (especially friends of the Beatty’s) spreading some rumors.

      I don’t agree with some of her moves (the recent one with the B-Day party was shameful) but this monster reputation of hers seems to me to be largely a myth.

      by: Anonymous reply 18 11/19/2011 @ 09:04PM

      Swank was considered ungracious after she campaigned so hard for a second Oscar when she had just won one. Plus her speech was kind of self-congratulatory and the Beattys have a lot of friends…..

      by: Anonymous reply 19 11/19/2011 @ 09:46PM

      OP, Swank agreed to go to a European dictators birthday party and speak for a million dollars. When people started saying WTF? She fired her manager for allowing her to look like an idiot.

      by: Anonymous reply 23 11/19/2011 @ 11:08PM

      And [R1] to add to [R12], a friend of mine used to intern at SNL and would take me to a lot of the after-parties and the only star who demanded a closed after-party with no outsiders was Hilary Swank. Every other actor/performer was cool, but Ms. Swank demanded a closed party.

      by: Anonymous reply 33 11/20/2011 @ 12:02AM

      I have posted this like 8 million times. Swank got lucky, but no way is she disliked. She comes into my restaurant all the time, often with Chad Lowe. She’s not the brightest bulb, but she couldn’t be sweeter.

      by: Anonymous reply 45 11/20/2011 @ 01:32AM

      Swank gave an interview with Vanity Fair after her marriage breakdown telling all about Chad’s drug addiction, which was not public knowledge. She then ran off with an agent who had just had a baby with his wife (Julia Roberts wannabe). Graceless and tacky, to say the least.

      Then there’s that Chechyan dictator and her apparent inability to use Google to find out, exactly, what she was letting herself in for. No problem, she just fired everyone around her except herself and the lawyer who negotiated the actual deal for $$$.

      But, I suppose when you start out living out of your car with your stage mother, you gotta keep the dough rolling in.

      by: Anonymous reply 51 11/20/2011 @ 02:20AM

      Hillary Skank is a psycho bitch ct from hell. I have witnessed this first person, as I waited on her. Talk about mean ct.

      by: Anonymous reply 99 12/06/2011 @ 11:54PM

      Hilary Swank is NOT a star. She simply cannot open a film. At this point, she’s become box-office poison — put her in the film and watch it bomb; even co-starring with the likes of Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron, among others, in “New Year’s Eve” and she STILL bombs.

      by: Anonymous reply 104 12/11/2011 @ 09:28PM

      Like

    • Hilary Swank’s PR Team Dumps Her:

      http://www.crazydaysandnights.net/2011/11/hilary-swanks-pr-team-dumps-her.html

      Well, I guess turnabout is fair play. After Hilary Swank much of last week and this firing everyone from her manager to her agent, Hilary’s PR team decided they were going to drop Hilary as a client. According to Entertainment Weekly, the two had a very strong disagreement about how to best handle the fallout after the event. Hilary went with the blame everyone but myself strategy while the PR company wanted her to do more of a mea culpa. That usually works best. Fall on your sword and be done with it. All Hilary has done is drag this thing out way longer than it should have. Look at all the other celebrities that were there. They said what they said and moved on. Hilary though, is just not getting it. She keeps saying if she had known everything in advance she would not have gone. Don’t you think that over the past ten years or so that maybe Chechnya has popped into her conscious. Maybe a little Google on that 12 hour flight?

      Like

  17. Would Hilary’s “Boys Don’t Cry” co-star Chloe Sevigny be worthy of a WTHHT? Granted, Sevigny to the best of my knowledge, was never remotely A-list, but it seems like a lot a people feel that she ruined her chances at getting more high profile/mainstream work by making the film “Brown Bunny”. In “Brown Bunny”, Sevigny performs unsimulated oral sex on her co-star Vincent Gallo.

    http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46334&p=832304&viewfull=1#post832304

    Like

  18. Wonder did the studios spoke too highly of Hilary after Boys & again after MDB the way
    Columbia/Sony spoke too highly of Alicia Sliverstone post-Clueless,perhaps????

    Like

    • I don’t think that comparing Hilary Swank to Alicia Silverstone is a fair enough of a comparison. I do think that after “Clueless”, Alicia Silverstone’s value was overestimated. While “Clueless” was a hit, it wasn’t exactly a mega-blockbuster (I would consider “Clueless” more of a cult film/sleeper hit, that wound up carrying an entire generation a la “Mean Girls” a decade later) that would in turn, warrant Alicia such a lucrative production deal w/ Columbia.

      While Hilary Swank never proved herself capable of opening/carrying a major film by herself (similar to Mira Sorvino for example), she did otherwise just win an Academy Award (Alicia Silverstone on the other hand, was never really considered a truly great actress). That therefore, automatically carries a lot of weight to it.

      Like

  19. she needs to work with top director she has it in her to deliver an oscar winning role. She should give eastwood another call

    Like

  20. jeffthewildman

    A few years ago I was having a discussion on another film forum and someone made this observation:

    Swank is a very credible actress, but it’s disturbing that she’s been typecast as the underdog who gets beaten to death.

    Quite a bit of truth to that.

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  21. martin socresa or speilberg or even quiten could find something but she could try romantic comdies for once maybe sandler movie although he sucks his movies bring cash to box officee

    Like

  22. What do you think of hilary swank?

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  23. shes not one my fav actressi havent seen that much of her work but i have seen enough to say shes a good actress just for the most part picks crappy roles. Freedom writers would suck without her she was the bright spot in the movie.

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  24. I’ve always thought she was overrated. She’s not a bad actress by any means, but i really don’t see the fuss everyone makes over her.

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  25. i think she is underatted sure shes no cate blanchett or annet bening but hes good cause of the crap roles she takes she dont get enoguh credit

    Like

  26. she cant be overrated she is barely talked about

    Like

  27. Your right, she’s not talked about now anymore, but i think two academy awards firmly puts someone out of the underrated section.

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  28. not really its not so much the oscars you win its how u capitalize on it. Example swank has beaten anenet bening 2 times for oscars yet annet is ranked as being one of the greatest actor because she has a better body of work then swank. Annet has been compared to streep and sells more tickets then swank. Swanks oscar winning performances are foreshorten because shes had more flops then hits. Shes not bashed like ashtun kutcher is but shes not talked about anymore either if u ask anyone on the street who swank they will give u blank stare unless u mention millon dollar baby annet is know by name and one of the big signs of an a list is if people know u by your name more then your work. Swank is not talked about shes not bashed either but her resume since million dollar baby is forgetten shes not even important enough to trash

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  29. People barely talk about annette bening anymore either, though.

    Like

  30. its the overall body of work that keeps a person from being underatted not 2 oscars an actor can win 3 oscars but if every movie he makes after that is a flop he is forgotten ranked lower not even good enough to be mentioned example Walter Brennan has 3 oscars more then bogart brando and james dean yet his body work is not very impressive which is why hes not as famous as them or even talked about today i doubt u or anyone on the sit have ever heard of him

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  31. she is still talked about american beauty and kids are alright are still adored by public and she is still pumping out better work then swank she is said to one of the greatest actress never to win an oscar she sells more tickets then swank

    Like

  32. my point without imdb him name one film by 3 time oscar winner walter brennan then 1 film by bogart james dean and brando

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  33. actors that win an oscar even win 2 can still be underrated if there work after oscar wins is horrible they became irrelevant barely get mention jessica lange has won 2 oscars yet she is underrated shes is barely talked she is not ranked high as top actress , Amy adams hasnt won 1 yet and her career is red hot.Lange is now considered underrated because she kind of made her self underrated with her poor film choices not that she is a bad actor shes good..Another example is spacey has 2 oscares campared to leos 0 and leo is still ranked higher dosent mean hes better then spacey it just means unlike kevin he cant be considerd underatted cause hes always ranked higher then spacey hes an a list whos a list not cause of his name like clooney its cause he continues to sell tickets and although younger the spacey has better body of work of work then him his films get better publicity then spacey too. Again my point if you make poor choice 2 oscars can put u in the underrated list

    Like

  34. As far as Hilary Swank’s looks possibly being detrimental to your career going further, I think it boils down to the argument that doesn’t a lot of “crossover” appeal (if that make sense). She isn’t exactly a “bombshell” like an “in their prime” Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, or Sharon Stone for example (in a nutshell, Hilary for the most part, doesn’t seem to a lot of “ex appeal”) and she doesn’t have enough of a wholesome, “girl-next-door” (in which women could easily like or relate to her while men feel that they could more easily attain her) look like a young Meg Ryan or Elisabeth Shue. Because of this, is perhaps a bit hard to fit Hilary Swank in a a romantic lead.

    Another problem is the whole stigma of Hilary’s big breakthrough as a movie actress, “Boys Don’t Cry” being a movie in which she masquerades as a man. I know that this is going to sound kind of petty and mean-spirited, but Hilary is if you ask me, a “butter-face”. She kind of has the facial resemblance to a horse, w/ her over-sized teeth.

    Like

  35. she needs to give eastwood a call cause since million dollar baby his movies has been hit and miss (mostly miss) together they can recapture the magic and save both careers. Her over body of work sucks she made alot of films but only 2 hits boys dont cry and million dollar baby her she is the female kevin spacey who after oscar his movies flopped .

    Like

  36. Typo: –stick in direct-to-video– should be stuck in direct-to-video. Don’t want to sound too critical, but there are a number of typo’s like this across this series. I haven’t posted them before, but I will from here on. (I can’t spell at all. It seems as if you have a hard time catching these minor errors.) Other than that I very much enjoy the articles. You have an fair tone with a lot of information. The way you handle Ms. Swank’s discussion of her looks is a good example of the fair tone.

    Like

    • Excellent. Thanks for tbe catch. I will go in and correct this. And definitely feel free to point out any more you find. Won’t hurt my feelings at all. I hate typos as much as anyone else. Unfortunately the WP spell check kind of sucks. So it lets a lot of stuff slip through. I definitely appreciate all the editing help I can get.

      Glad you like the series. Fairness is one of my primary concerns. Yes, I am going to crack jokes. But at the end of the day, I do strive to be balanced. All of my subjects reached incredible heights. That doesn’t happen without some good reason.

      Like

  37. Hillary Swank has a new movie coming out in mid-November (The Homesman) that looks like a winner, and that she’ll get acting praise for it. It should be a career boost for her.

    Like

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