What the Hell Happened to Hilary Swank?

Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank

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

What the hell happened?

Hilary Swank's eighth grade yearbook photo

Hilary Swank’s eighth grade yearbook photo

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 attended South Pasadena High School but ended up dropping out.  According to Swank, she didn’t feel like she belonged there:

I felt like such an outsider. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t belong in any way. I didn’t even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn’t seen or understood.

Swank described trying to get a foot in the door in Hollywood:

I remember watching my mom. She had a roll of quarters, and she would just call agents, “My daughter is really great. She’s really talented. You should meet her.” They’d say, “Great. Well, send a résumé in and a picture.” I, of course, didn’t have either of those.

Hilary Swank - Harry and the Hendersons - 1991

Hilary Swank – Harry and the Hendersons – 1991

In 1991, Swank began landing some guest spots on TV shows.  First, she appeared in an episode of the sitcom Harry and the Hendersons.  The show was based on the movie of the same name in which a family adopts a bigfoot named Harry.

swank - growing pains

Hilary Swank – Growing Pains – 1991-1992

Swank also made appearances in two episodes each of Evening Shade and Growing Pains (pictured above).  On Growing Pains, she worked alongside Leonadro DiCaprio.  All that talent and Kirk Cameron too.  Swank recalled her first big break in TV:

I got a couple of lines on a sitcom, Growing Pains. I think the first time I was onGrowing Pains, I pulled a bunny out of a hat and said, “Ta-dah,” and that got me my SAG card. Then I was on Evening Shade, and they just kept bringing me back.

Hilary Swank - Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 1992

Hilary Swank – Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 1992

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

The movie starred Kristy Swanson as a cheerleader turned slayer of vampires and featured Beverly Hills 90210 heart-throb, Luke Perry, in a supporting role.  Donald Sutherland played Swanson’s mentor.  Rutger Hauer and Paul Reubens played vampires.  Swank played one of the student’s at Buffy’s California high school

Expectations for the Buffy movie were high.  The movie was released at the height of Perry’s popularity.  His screaming fans were always camped out on the set.  The movie had a lot of good buzz based on Joss Whedon’s clever script.  But the script was heavily altered to lighten the tone of the movie.  Sutherland insisted on changing just about all of his dialogue.  Whedon was so frustrated, he walked off the set one day and never returned.  Eventually, he took the material to TV where he could give it his own spin.

Today, Swank is known for her dramatic roles.  But she points out that she wasn’t originally taken so seriously:

My first movie was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, I started my career in comedy. I was always auditioning for dramatic roles as well, but I was constantly told that I was too funny, I was too “half-hour,” I wasn’t dramatic enough, which I think is really interesting.

Critics complained that despite clever moments, the movie missed the mark.  Perry’s fan-base didn’t turn out to see him at the cineplexes.  Buffy opened in fifth place at the box office behind A League of Their Own which had been in theaters for five weeks.

Hilary Swank - Camp Wilder - 1992-1993

Hilary Swank – Camp Wilder – 1992-1993

From 1992-1993, Swank had a recurring role on the short-lived TGIF sitcom, Camp Wilder.

Mary Page Keller starred as an older sibling who takes care of her younger brother (Jerry O’Connell) and sister (Meghann Halderman) after the death of their parents while also raising her own daughter.  Her loose parenting style makes their house a hangout for her siblings’ teenage friends played by Swank and Jay Mohr.  Jared Leto was a popular guest star as well.

Camp Wilder was cancelled after one season due to low ratings.  Although 20 episodes were made, only 19 were aired in the US.  The show was actually a hit in Germany.

Next: The Next Karate Kid and Sometimes They Come Back Again


Posted on May 31, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 146 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-


    • 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.


      • Hillary Swank seems to be very likable.
        I’m not surprised she won an Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry. That is exactly the type of role that Hollywood goes ape s#@t over.
        But for the life of me I couldn’t (still can’t) understand the Million Dollar Baby win.
        My view of her as an actress is that “she plays a real good tomboy”


  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.


    • 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.


  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.


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry:

      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.


      • Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby:

        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.


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

    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.


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

      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.


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

        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.


        • “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.


        • 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.


        • 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!


        • 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.


        • 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.


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

        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.



    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.


    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.



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

      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.


      • 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.


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

    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?


  8. From
    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:

    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


  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.


    • 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.


      • 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.


        • That’s why they call it acting. Some of them are god at acting smart even if they don’t necessarily understand the words they are articulating.


      • “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.


        • 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. 😉


        • Okay, so it sounds like you simply could have chosen your words better. I can accept that. 🙂

          Thanks for clarifying.


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


  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.


    • 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.



      Watched Million Dollar Baby the other night. In the real world, Blue Bear who had been warned once and penalized once in the final fight, would have lost by disqualification and banned from boxing for life. In the movie world she was the “winner”. Total BS and a huge mistake in the screen play. IMHO. Let’s at least try to keep it real.


        • I’m not sure about these links to reddit conversations. I’d like to see some more meat on the bones rather than just a link to a topic on reddit. Ideally, I’d like to see some links from the conversation in reddit leading back here!

          Readers, are you finding value in the reddit links? I’m all for sending Le Blog readers to reddit in order to have them post links back here either in the comments sections or in various rubreddits. But I’m not sure the bare links are helpful.

          Anyone have any opinions they want to share? Are these good or do they clog up the comments section even more?


        • I virtually never have time to follow the links in comments, whether to reddit or anything else.


        • LOL. I know what you mean.

          I generally allow links and such in the comments section for readers who want some supplementary reading. Some readers have complained about “spam” while others have said they enjoy following the links. For selfish reasons, I’d like people familiar with this site to go promote it on reddit or anywhere else, but that’s another matter. But just a link to something on reddit with no other description seems to cross a line to my mind.

          TMC, I went back and looked at previous links you have posted. In the past, you have included some content from the reddit link to hook people into clicking it. I’d like to see that sort of thing if you are going to continue posting links. Just like you do for your other posts here really.

          And if anyone wants to post some links to Le Blog while you’re at it, well, I won’t complain about that one bit! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  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.


    • 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!


      • 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.


      • 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?).


        • 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.


  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


  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.)


    • 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.


  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.


    • 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.


  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.


    • 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.



    • 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.


      • 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?


        • 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.


      • Who are you to call anyone uneducated? Are you smarter than everyone because you went to school. I doubt that .


        • jeffthewildman

          Perhaps “unsophisticated” might be a better description.


        • No, I think “under educated” is the phrase. It’s not a matter of opinion that Swank lacks a formal education. Does that make her stupid? No. Although the incident in question reflected poorly on her decision making which I suspect had something to do with her lack of education. She was living in her car while she was acting. She didn’t finish high school. I expect for someone with that kind of background to have some knowledge gaps. Maybe she’s used her down time to fill them in. Maybe not. I’m really not judging. Just pointing out the fact that she has what many would consider to be a substandard education. You can draw your own conclusions from that info.


        • Perhaps arrogant and full of self.


        • Oh Jeremy you cut me to the quick! I hate to be thought of as “full of self”.


        • The truth hurts don’t it!


        • Lebeau isn’t “full of himself” on the contrary, I’ve never seen a blog host who is as welcoming of any and all comments. That takes a personality who is about much more than themself. You’ll come across lots of people in your life that are all about themselves, I promise you, Lebeau is not one of them.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, RB. Those who know my best know I’m all about that bass. No treble.

          I’m toying with our new friend, Jeremy. Maybe he’ll come around and understand we’re just having fun here. No Swanks were harmed in the writing of this article.


        • We are not friends a**hole.


        • So so very much. I’m wounded, good sir. You have peered into my soul and exposed my short comings.

          Orrrrrrr you are over-reacting to a statement of fact because you have formed some kind of personal attachment to an actress you have never met.

          I am going with option 2 myself.


        • You can hate on who ever you want but the fact remains Hillary is talented and successful. And will continue to make hit movies.By the way her recent movie Your Not You is very good.


        • Nobody is ‘hating’ on Swank here. Nobody doubts the talent and success she has. If you were familiar with this series you would see that we at the blog acknowledge the fantastic careers that are detailed here. Most of the subjects of “What the Hell Happened” are performers we really like. That doesn’t mean they have no flaws.


        • In my opinion calling someone uneducated is a diss. And if you read the blog and comments there is mainly negativity towards Hillary which is not neccessary. I have not seen one positive towards Hillary on here.


        • jeffthewildman

          Be careful what you call a dis. Biggie’s song “Kick In The Door” is a dis (and a very well-done one at that). Nothing on here is.


        • jeffthewildman

          As for nothing positive, here’s a direct quote from the article itself:

          “That’s not to take anything away from Swank who is clearly a talented actress.”


        • Are you trying to be funny? Because you are not even close. Bye the way the title is What The Hell Happened To Hillary Swank but she is still making decent movies. Maybe it should be what the f*uck happened to Alicia Sylverstone


        • jeffthewildman

          Look around. There IS one on Alicia Silverstone.


        • Whoops misspelled Silverstone maybe if I was well educated like some other people on this blog I would of spelled that right.


        • Typos happen. I certainly try to avoid and/or correct them. But everyone makes mistakes. It’s no big deal.

          I’ve given you a bit of a hard time because you came out on the attack. But if you read the article, the comments and the related articles in the series, I think you’ll see that Swank is being treated fairly here. Another reader took me to task here in the comments section for my original statement about Swank’s education and I clarified that it was in no way meant as a blanket statement on people who lack a formal education. I don’t really care how much schooling anyone has. It’s what they do with it that matters. Swank’s done a lot with a little.

          I have no idea what your education level is. Your comments give the impression of one who is defensive about their education. That’s your business. I don’t care. If you want to carry on a conversation about Swank’s career, I’m happy to do so. If you want to continue name-calling, I’m going to start deleting your comments. Either way, thanks for dropping in.


        • Ok first of all I am not defensive about my education. And in today’s world people are negative. And I guess I am too because the only thing that I got from your last statement was I will delete you. Thats kind of rude if you ask me. I was only joking but I guess just like me you only pulled the negative out. Next time I read your statement I will look past the negativety. OR WILL I?


        • Well you did call me an “asshole”, Jeremy. I’m not sure you’re in a position to be judging rude behavior. 😉


        • Your right I should have not resulted into name calling because of your opinion. I am sorry. And I do respect your opinion.


        • See, told ya we could be friends! 😉


        • Okay, so kidding around didn’t work. Let’s look at some facts. Is Swank still working? Yes. Something which the article makes apparent by addressing all of her movies up until the time the article was written. I actually do intend to update the article for more recent movies at a later date. With 89 articles in the series, I don’t get around to updating older articles as often as I would like.

          Are the movies “decent”? Her most recent movie, You’re Not You, currently has a 40% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The Homesman which also came out in 2014 has a respectable 82% approval rating. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2010 to find a movie that cracked 60%. So it would appear Swank has a mix of mostly poorly reviewed movies with a “decent” one every five years or so. In fairness, that’s not at all uncommon. I’m not accusing her of making bad movies. At least no worse than the majority of Hollywood actresses.

          The reason the article exists is that Swank is a two-time Oscar winner. Good for her! But after winning her second Oscar for Million Dollar Baby in 2004, she kind of disappeared from the box office. The next movie she made that even crossed $50 million was PS I Love You in 2007. After that, you have the flop New Year’s Even in 2011. She didn’t have a single movie released in theaters for three years after New Years Eve tanked. In 2014, she appeared in You’re Not You which was shown in 5 theaters and The Homesman which appeared in 222 theaters. I think it’s safe to say that most people aren’t even aware those movies exist. So a lot of people, if they think about Swank at all, are wondering what happened to her? She wins two Oscars and then seems to disappear from movies! The article addresses that.

          As for her education, Swank dropped out of school at 16. That’s not something I hold against her. She was living out of her car with her mom as her agent. If anyone is to blame, it’s her parents. I respect Swank for having made the best of a bad situation. Not many could rise to such heights as a double Oscar win coming from such humble beginnings.

          The only reason Swank’s education was a topic of conversation was because of her poor decision to make a paid appearance in Chechnya’s capital Grozny on the 35th birthday of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov in 2011. Human rights groups contacted Swank and asked her to reconsider her appearance due to the human rights violations perpetrated by Chechnya. But Swank claimed to be well-informed on the issue and appeared at the party anyway. Afterwards when she was criticized in the media for taking money to appear at a birthday party for a known despot, Swank claimed ignorance and promised to give her fee to charity.

          I offered her lack of formal education as an excuse for this horrible faux pas. I don’t really expect an actress who has Swank’s limited educational background to be up on world affairs. But fine. If it wasn’t the fact that Swank has less than a high school education, what’s your take on Swank working for a human rights violator?


        • IMDb has this movie at 7.4. Are you saying because Rotten Tamatoes gives low score the movie is no good? I do not go off a website if a movie is good or bad!


        • I didn’t say You’re Not You was bad or good. I said it was “poorly received”. It has a 40% approval rating at RT and a 56% score at Metacritic. Both of those sites aggregate reviews by movie critics. The 7.4 rating you are citing is a user review. Since the movie only showed in 5 theaters, you have to go out of your way to see it. It’s not surprising that the majority of people who did so and then took the time to rate it at IMDB gave it a positive score. That’s not indicative of much.

          Whether it is a good movie or not is entirely besides the point. The point is, very few people are aware of its existence. Which fits into the larger point which is that very few people know what Swank is up to these days.


    • Hilary Swank’s PR Team Dumps Her:

      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?


    • Future of Movie Stars: Who Will Shine? Who Will Fade Away?

      SEANC, ON 02 MAR 2016 – 07:51 AM, SAID:
      I don’t really see the comparison. She’s had a pretty solid career in indie drama and supporting roles in somewhat larger films prior to winning an Oscar. She’s also more conventionally attractive than Swank (who got a lot of ridiculous BS about her face).

      Swank also has this vaguely off-putting vibe to her. (It’s really hard to describe it, but there’s a reason why she never took off when she tried to do romantic comedies.)


    • Hilary Swank. She came into the restaurant I was working at at the time, sometime around 2005, and she was such a bitch. She must have said “Do you know who the f*** I am? I’m Hilary Swank” a hundred times. She and her entourage of maybe 5 or 6 others basically drove a lot of our regulars out with their swearing and drunk aholeness. She ended up climbing on top of the table and yelling at people in a drunken stupor things like “I f***ing love me” and “Where’s that faot waiter” and things of that sort. Also, she was wearing a skirt, a short skirt, and kept flashing her vag at people. I worked in a classy upper crust type place, a lot of the people she was flashing were well into their 70’s or 80’s.

      TL;DR Hilary Swank is a nasty bitch.


  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.


    • I think Sevigny “bounced back” in TV — I think she was a regular on “Big Love” and she’s in the new show “Those Who Kill.” Hey, if it weren’t for television….and “Brown Bunny” didn’t do any favors for Gallo’s career either.


    • I heard “Brown Bunny” sucks.

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

      Despite all the praise it got, I couldn’t even finish Vinnie G’s “Buffalo 66” — another quirky-with-a-capital-Q indie movie that gives quirky indie movies a bad name. Speakin’ o’ which, didn’t VINCENT GALLO have a career at one point?


  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????


    • 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.


  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


  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.


  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


  22. What do you think of hilary swank?


  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.


  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.


  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


  26. she cant be overrated she is barely talked about


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


  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


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


  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


  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


  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


  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


  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.


  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 .


  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.


    • 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.


  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.


  38. Career Prospectus: Hilary Swank:

    I have [a suggestion] for Sarah’s Career Prospectus: Hilary Swank—TWO Oscars, a lot of buzz and then…crickets. Like, PS I Love You with Spittle, and New Year’s Eve with everyone. Is she just done with the movie business or was it a misguided turn into bad rom coms that did her in? Can you shed some light?


    I saw the new Variety cover online with some of the potential Best Actress nominees this year and Hilary Swank is one of them. Is she having a resurgence of sorts? She is a two time Oscar winner and a decent actress. Yes she has made some shitty rom-coms but I don’t feel like her choices have been overwhelmingly bad. Then the dictator’s birthday party came up and how that might have been an opening for people who already did not like her to pass over her on projects. She did have to apologize repeatedly for that mess, while other celebrities who performed/partied with questionable people avoided similar public outrage. Is it just a matter of The Homesman being a good movie for her or did something weird happen with Hilary Swank that is just now going away?

    — Gayle

    Two mentions of Hilary Swank and her two Oscars and her, let’s call it “uneven” career. She’s a two-time Oscar winner, a lauded actress of considerable talent, and yet she’s oddly marginalized, isn’t she? Whenever there’s a big part for actresses, Swank is never at the top of anyone’s list, and it’s not like we pay attention to her in the way we do Cate Blanchett or Angelina Jolie or Halle Berry or Reese Witherspoon. In terms of being a gossip item, this is probably as Swank intends it—she keeps a low profile, is unexceptional in her personal dealings, and outside of promoting films/Oscar campaigning, she doesn’t make a lot of appearances. The above-mentioned dictator-birthday fiasco is the blackest mark on her record, but that came out around the time a lot of other entertainers were busted for the same, including Beyonce.

    So what is going on with Swank? Why does it seem like she flounders? Well, career choices play a significant role. Swank overtly chased Oscars there for a while, resulting in turds like Amelia and Birds of America, the super-stereotypical Freedom Writers, and one gem, Conviction. But combined with the Oscar-chasing, she also made a slew of sh*tty rom-coms and horror movies (why…?). The result is that she doesn’t have much of a profile with mainstream audiences. Despite two Oscars, we can’t trust her to be a cornerstone of quality because she’s made just as many bad movies as she has good. But she’s also never established herself outside Oscar baity fare.

    She’s never clicked with the rom-com stuff, either. Swank just isn’t the sweetheart type, so while Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellweger, and Sandra Bullock were able to punch that card, Swank wasn’t. Yet she keeps trying—just this year she starred in You’re Not You, a Nicholas Sparksian movie about a pianist afflicted with ALS. And I don’t even know, with the horror movies. Maybe she’s a fan of the genre? Except for appearing in the original movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she’s literally never made a good horror movie.

    As for the dictator birthday party thing, I don’t think it’s that she was punished for it, per se, so much that part of her damage control involved firing her management. She’s still with her agency, CAA, but she ousted a fair portion of her team. They weren’t really killing it before that incident, though—her career has always been a bizarre mish-mash of bad movies, rom-coms, and Oscar stuff—so I don’t think it ultimately matters.

    I guess you have to do something other than make potential Oscar movies, although Swank’s talents are best utilized in dramas. What else can she do? Well, New Year’s Eve is terrible, but Swank can be effective as part of an ensemble, which she showed in that movie. She’d make a great straightwoman. She could find an ensemble comedy she can be part of, where her talent for seriousness can be played for laughs. Just not rom-commy laughs. That sh*t isn’t working for anyone these days, let alone someone ill-suited for the genre. Otherwise, she just has to pick better scripts on the drama side. Not everything has to be a potential Best Picture, but there’s plenty of space between that and the “Lifetime Movie of the Week” crap she’s prone to making.


  39. shes going to tv


  40. tv might be good for her she only had 3 hits in her career ps i love you million dollar baby boys dont cry . i think it might be a while till she gets good film roles unless eastwood gives her a call like he cast matt damon twice morgan 3 times gene hack 3 times


  41. To be honest, she’s kind of annoying. I feel as though she may have overstayed her welcome in Hollywood. Sure, she’s a fantastic actress but a lot of the films she has done have not been my favorite. On top of that she’s getting a lot older and let’s face it unless your name is Meryl Streep, then the roles are limited.


  42. Here is a movie for her: The year is 3000 she is a secret assassin sworn to protect the universe from aliens, she is given a job to go into there planet and assassinate there leader, but has a small amount of time to do it or become an alien herself.


  43. You people are totally ignorant. Hillary Swank is my favorite actress and it’s because she shows heart and character. BY FAR SHE IS THE MOST TALENTED ACTRESS OUT THERE TODAY! If you don’t like her don’t watch her movies. But everyone I know loves her movies and I think hollywood needs her.


    • Well, if everyone you know loves all of Swank’s movies, that’s enough for me. Clearly she is objectively the greatest actress of all times. This is not a matter of opinion. We need discus it no further. Jeremy and all of his friends have proclaimed it so on the internet, therefore it must be true.

      Or I’m being sarcastic.


  44. Nostalgia Critic: The Next Karate Kid

    Doug reviews “The Next Karate Kid”.


  45. I was impressed with the original article. As with other reworkings, you can really appreciate what is being done by Lebeau to elevate the quality of already great articles. There is a consistent overall voice emerging that speaks to this writing quality.


    • You’re too kind.

      To be honest, I don’t know how much “writing” goes into these articles. I spend a lot more time reading and formatting than I do writing. I wish I could say otherwise, but these articles are less about my voice as a writer than they are about compiling facts, pictures, clips and quotes gathered from a variety of sources. Someone on Reddit commented recently that these articles were nothing more than IMDB entries with pictures. It was meant dismissively, but it’s not that far from the truth. The filmography is the framework for the article. I then go out and find everything I can to hang on that framework with the idea of painting a picture of what (the hell) happened.

      I’ve been doing this for longer than I care to admit. And all that time, I’ve been experimenting with different approaches and getting feedback. Some I listen to and some I have to discard for my own sanity. My style has evolved over time. The more recent articles reflect those choices and feedback from readers. But a lot of the older articles were created under different guidelines. So, yes, consistency has been one of my goals in doing these updates.

      I like to include a strong visual component in the WTHH series. I think it is helpful to see the subject age over time. I also like to include the original trailers where possible so readers can (if they choose to do so) click and see how that movie was originally sold to audiences. My thinking is that just the pictures and the clips alone can take the reader back in time and remind them of things they may have forgotten. If I can find some interesting tidbits and hidden gems to include along the way, so much the better.

      So, yeah. Consistency is a forefront on my mind. I won’t pretend like there’s a lot of great writing going on here. But there is a lot of attention paid to detail. And I’m always striving to improve the experience in any way I can.


      • You definitely have a signature writing style, even if that isn’t necessarily the goal, and it works exceedingly well here. You can critique it, of course, I critique my own writing endlessly and absolutely have to rewrite everything multiple times. The style writing that you use in the series is what draws the reader in, it’s very accessible in that sense, and overall has that sort of “conversational” quality that invites, well, conversation. Intentional or not.
        Plus the synergy with Daffy’s writing is solid gold. Yep. It’s a good thing!


        • Glad you like it.

          And yes, the “conversational” tone of the writing is intentional and exactly what I am going for. The idea is that the article reads in the same voice you would hear if we were talking about movies in my living room. Although doing the podcast has taught me that in a live conversation, you would hear a lot more “ummmms” and “ahhhs” than you do in a written article. So, that’s a bonus.

          I’m not getting into any deep academic or philosophical analysis. I’m also not out for blood or to set the snarkiness into overdrive. The goal is to be super casual and as objective as I can be while still presenting some humor and a point of view. It’s a simple style and a lot of readers tell me they appreciate it. Plenty more don’t and that’s okay too.

          So, thanks for the kind words on a Monday morning. The words of encouragement are often more helpful than readers know.


  46. Strange to update this article and not mention her recent statement about taking time off to care for her father.

    Here’s a comment from another actress who auditioned for Boys Don’t Cry:

    I’m definitely in the “she’s hot” category, but I wish she’d made some action movies. I saw Next Karate Kid on video before she became famous, and I wish she’d use her tomboy build to her advantage beating up bad guys. But apparently she prefers “serious” roles and films, and may also be afraid of being typecast.

    Luke Perry has (had?) a ” rapid fan-base” or a rabid one?

    Did you miss a chance to link to van Damme talking about the dictator’s party?

    “Swank played a classical pianist diagnosed with ALS. Rossum played a college student who is having a tough time juggling her romantic life and personal responsibilities. Rossum hires Swank to care for her…” What condition did Rossum have that’s worse than ALS?


  47. Cast Of P.S. I Love You: How Much Are They Worth Now?

    Hilary Swank

    Estimated Net Worth: $40 Million. Hilary Swank has had a small, but extremely successful career in acting, resulting in two Oscars and many more awards. She began acting with roles in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, The Next Karate Kid and on the series Beverly Hills, 90210, but hit it big with her Oscar winning performance in 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry and again in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. She is also well known for the starring role as Holly Reilly in P.S. I Love You and has made a very respectable $40 million.


  48. Hilary Swank Joins Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky

    Katherine Waterston is also in talks for a role.


  49. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Hilary Swank Anymore

    Hilary Swank won fame and acclaim for her Oscar-winning performance in 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry. She did it all over again five years later when she won a second Oscar for Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama Million Dollar Baby. And then all of a sudden, Hollywood stopped talking about her. How did she suddenly go from in demand to out of the spotlight? Here are a few theories.

    She won two Oscars too quickly
    They say that winning an Oscar can be a curse. But winning two in the span of five years? That’s a whole other story. Swank arguably faced a considerable backlash in Hollywood after she won her second Best Actress Oscar in 2005. By then, there was a growing feeling that Swank had been excessively rewarded. Suddenly, the actress had gone from starring on Beverly Hills 90210 to joining the ranks of two-time winners like Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Sally Field and Meryl Streep. (Yes, Streep only had two wins by then.) It was especially crazy when you factor in two of her fellow nominees that year, Kate Winslet and Annette Bening, hadn’t even won yet. (Sadly, Bening still hasn’t.) But beyond the politics of who deserved what, Swank was inevitably set up for failure by the Academy. By age 30, she had far exceeded expectations, and accomplished more than most actors could have been. At this point, there was really no place to go but down.

    She also got lucky
    The strange thing about Swank’s two Oscar wins is that they were both lightning-in-a-bottle moments in her career. She certainly gave excellent performances in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby; nobody’s going to look back and say to themselves “Wait, she won an Oscar for THAT?!” The problem is, outside of those two movies, she never really did anything that warranted that level of acclaim. Before Boys Don’t Cry, Swank was only really known for films like The Next Karate Kid and getting fired from 90210. And even afterward, she struggled to land on her feet, starring in mostly mediocre projects like The Affair of the Necklace and the TV movie Iron Jawed Angels. Sure, she had two Oscars to her name, but not much else to show for it. As a result, Swank became a difficult actress to place in Hollywood. She was great in the right role, but difficult to cast in many others. In many ways, that arguably played a key role in how her career played out after Million Dollar Baby. Speaking of which…

    Her latest movies haven’t been great
    Much like the years after she won the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry, Swank had a difficult time finding success after Million Dollar Baby was released in 2004. She vacillated wildly between starring in prestige movies that were too mediocre for Oscar consideration and mainstream flicks that seem more geared towards making money than satisfying audiences. One of her roughest patches came in 2009, when she starred in the Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia. which was in every sense of the word a disaster. Reviews were terrible, it earned a 20% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the box office returns were even worse. The film grossed just $14.2 million against a reported $40 million budget, and Swank’s days of Oscar glory started to feel like a thing of the past. Not that it bothers her: “You’re an artist and you’re putting yourself out there, and you take that leap, and sometimes you fly, and sometimes you fall,” she told the Independent in 2014.

    She has other interests
    Like many actors who have spent a considerable amount of time in the spotlight, Swank realizes there’s more-to-life than red carpets and million-dollar movies. She said as much while speaking to the Independent in 2014, pointing out, “None of us know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next, and I think that’s one of the things we have to be able to do, to never take a moment for granted. Today, I’m living my bucket list Life is short and we have to make the most of it every day. If you were told you had a year to live how much different would you live your life than maybe some of the things we take for granted or we worry about? They’re so absurd in the overall scheme of things.” The Independent adds that Swank has spent a lost in the past few years “visiting and working in orphanages in India, helping to set up schools in Ethiopia and launching her own charity, called Hilaroo.” According to the interview, Hilaroo unites children with animals “to help heal each other.”

    She’s been caring for her dad
    Swank’s absence from the spotlight has also had to do with things beyond her control. In 2015, the actress revealed to the Huffington Post that she had recently put her career on the back burner in order to take care of her ailing father, who just had a lung transplant. “My dad is living with me, she said (via ABC News) of her father, Stephen Swank. “I’m his sole caretaker right now. It’s a certain amount of time to serve as a caretaker, but in a lifespan it’s a blink of an eye,” she continued. “There’s been job opportunities I passed on, and things that I said ‘I can’t’, but really what we’re here for is our family.” She went on to add that the decision to put her family first has led to zero regrets. “And if it wasn’t me taking care of him, I think I would always look back and regret that opportunity to be able to care for him and help him through this extraordinary time.”

    Fortunately she’s still got it in her
    Although her star wattage isn’t as strong as it used to be, even she’s given the right role, she can still really kill it. Case in point: 2014’s The Homesman, a Tommy Lee Jones-directed movie that earned Swank some of the best reviews in her career from critics who hailed her performance as a return to form. Sure, it didn’t win her a third Best Actress Oscar, but the strength of her work and the warm reception it received suggested a third nomination may still be in her future.

    Does she have a future on TV?
    Soon, Swank will test her luck with a medium that has recently proved to be very lucrative for award-winning movie stars: television. In 2014, she was cast in the new Starz drama The One Percent. The project reportedly revolves around “a downtrodden farmer as he struggles to hold on to his family and his farm, when a bizarre twist of fate becomes a life-changing secret that will either save them or ruin them,” according to Deadline. A premiere date is still in limbo for the project, but it already boasts a slew of high-profile names. On the roster: Ed Helms, Ed Harris and Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who created and co-wrote the project. In other words: get ready for a boatload of Emmys.


  50. Hilary Swank tells an eye-opening story about Hollywood’s wage gap problem:


  51. Episode 138 – The Core

    In this week’s episode, the gang says goodbye to 2013 by digging to the center of the earth with 2003’s sci-fi snooze, The Core! How much inaccurate science can you fit in one movie? How much scenery can The Tucc chew? And why is Aaron Eckhart screaming so much? Plus: Temperatures in excess of nine THOUSAND degrees!

    The Core stars Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Bruce Greenwood and Tcheky Karyo; directed by Jon Amiel.


  52. Method Woman: Let’s Talk About Hilary Swank

    Hilary Swank is a two-time Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress who has worked with esteemed directors like Brian De Palma, Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones. Roger Ebert called her ‘astonishing’ in his review of Million Dollar Baby. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has played Amelia Earhart and Brandon Teena, and worked as a child actress for several years. She has been praised for her steadfast commitment to her work and all-consuming method of acting that is usually seen as the reserve of men in the business. Hilary Swank is Hollywood made flesh.


  53. 15 Shocking Actors Hollywood Won’t Cast Anymore


    Hilary Swank’s résumé from the early 2000s is stacked with a number of enviable movies. Swank is an actress who always gives her all, which makes her disappearance from the current landscape of film rather disappointing, especially since her career started with such force.

    Not only did Swank win a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Boys Don’t Cry, but she also went on to win her second statue for her incredible performance in Million Dollar Baby.

    In spite of two Oscars under her belt, Swank’s projects began to lose visibility. There were still vehicles like The Black Dahlia and her starring role in the Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia, but Swank’s presence slowly faded.

    A bunch of middling romantic comedies and horror films like P.S. I Love You and The Reaping earned Swank a few Razzie nominations and she hasn’t been able to find a winning project since.


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