We’re closing out round two of the Best Actress Bracket Game with a pair of two-time winners. Both of these actresses are known for their portrayals of strong, determined women. In today’s write-up, we’ll be concentrating on their victory laps.
But first, let’s see who the winner of today’s match will go up against in round three.
As expect, Meryl Streep sent Annie Hall packing. But this contest was much, much closer than anyone would have anticipated. For much of the day, Diane Keaton lead by a couple of votes. The overnight crew showed up and gave Streep a tidy victory with just over 65% of the votes. Could it be that the holder of the record for most nominations could be vulnerable to an upset? We’ll see when the winner of today’s match faces off against Streep in the semi-finals.
After her Best Actress win for The Accused, Foster was absent from the big screen for three years. She had been interested in starring in an adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel, The Silence of the Lambs, for quite some time. She attempted to buy the rights to the book, but Gene Hackman beat her to the punch. Hackman intended to develop the project for himself. But eventually, he decided the material was too dark and he moved on.
This was a common problem when it came to casting a female lead. Just about every actress in Hollywood passed on the part of Clarice Starling because they thought the script was too violent (or they wanted too much money and the violence thing was a convenient out). Foster continued to lobby for the role, but director Jonathan Demme was dead set on casting just about anybody else.
Obviously, Demme relented and gave Foster the part, but only after he had exhausted all other options. He wasn’t happy about it an initially there was some tension between the director and his leading lady. But as they worked together, Demme came around. Foster’s Oscar-winning costar, Anthony Hopkins, had the showier part but her performance holds the movie together.
Hilary Swank went from being fired from a teen soap opera to winning Best Actress in 1999 with Boys Don’t Cry. As often happens, Swank struggled to capitalize on her victory. She was able to lock down supporting roles in movies like The Gift and Insomnia, but by the time she was headlining The Core her career seemed to be in trouble.
When it came to Swank’s second Oscar-winning role in Million Dollar Baby, her director also had concerns. Clint Eastwood had every confidence in Swank as an actress, but he worried that the next Karate Kid was too small to be believable as a fighter. “She was like a feather. But what happened is, she had this great work ethic.”
Swank hit the gym with a professional trainer for five hours a day every day. In fact, she may have overdone it. She ended up with a potentially life-threatening staphylococcus infection which she did not tell Eastwood about because she didn’t think her character would own up to her illness (and also, she might have had concerns about being recast). But Swank survived and managed to pack on 19 pounds of muscle to look like a boxer.
Following Million Dollar Baby, you might think the world would have opened up to Swank. As a two-time Oscar winner, she was part of an elite club. Instead, it seems she doubled down on the Oscar curse and ended up as a WTHH subject.