Marie Claire's cover girl opens up in an exclusive new interview
The overwhelming impression you get from Hilary Swank is of drive and perfectionism. Is that true? ‘No,’ she starts, then falters. ‘Maybe there was a point where I was a perfectionist. Probably up until my thirties. I do set big goals for myself and push myself very hard but there is no such thing as perfection. You’d drive yourself crazy.’
The public persona can in part be attributed to the dedication she brings to her craft, famously spending a month passing herself off as a man in preparation for her role as transgender teen Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, and the physical sacrifices and arduous training regime that accompanied the making of Million Dollar Baby.
Whether she admits to being a perfectionist or not, her toned, taut body shape says all you need to know about her inner determination to succeed. ‘You see these incredible bodies in Africa that are all muscle. They’re running to hunt in these tribes. And you think, “How does the body look like that?” But if you’re utilising your body, you recognise it is a machine and it can be capable of whatever you need it to be.’
Up next is the biopic Amelia, based on the remarkable but short life of the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart. ‘She was ahead of her time,’ says Hilary. ‘She supported other women and did a lot of speaking on their behalf, trying to encourage them to pursue what was in their hearts, not necessarily what society felt they should do.’
Given her numerous accomplishments since arriving in Hollywood almost 20 years ago, it’s interesting to hear that she still regards herself as an outsider. ‘There’s this song on Sesame Street that I grew up watching and it was “One of These Things is not Like the Others” and you had to point out what really didn’t belong. So I kind of feel like someone’s going to go, “Wait a minute!”‘
‘Why me?’ is a common question among actors seeking reasons to explain their success, and Hilary Swank is not alone in her belief that providence has played a crucial role in her journey. ‘I’m definitely spiritual,’ she reveals. ‘I didn’t grow up going to church but I definitely believe in a higher power. And I do believe in fate… A lot of people maybe feel they’re destined to do something or be something, but you can’t sit back and wait for that to happen. I believe you play an active role in your fate.’
This is an edited version. To read the full interview, pick up the November issue of Marie Claire, on sale from Wednesay 4 November.
WATCH the trailer for Amelia below: