In Conversation With...Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank remains one of Hollywood's most unpredictable and venturesome actors. Having got her start as a teenager in the early '90s on television and in movies such as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer (her big-screen debut), followed by a run of indie films and a season on Beverly Hills, 90210, she pivoted with her career-making lead role as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry, which played TIFF in 1999. That performance would earn her both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress, among many more accolades, and cement her reputation for striking transformations onscreen, transformations that are not merely skin deep but inhabit the essence of a character. She repeated that award success with 2004's Million Dollar Baby, and continued to keep audiences guessing across a filmography that comprises titles and themes as varied Brian De Palma's neo-noir The Black Dahlia (2006), Mira Nair's Amelia (09), in which she played the title role of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart, the TIFF selections Conviction (10) and 55 Steps (17), and this year's Gala Presentation What They Had, the directorial debut from screenwriter Elizabeth Chomko, on which she serves as an executive producer.
Swank is renowned for immersing herself in her roles. She prepares rigourously, using careful precision in bringing these characters to life. During one interview, the actor described her practice of writing down a single sentence on the front page of her scripts, one that defines the person she is embodying and serves as a reminder that every scene leads back to that idea. It's a deceptively straightforward technique — one that has allowed her to reinvent herself as an actor and avoid easy categorization.
We are delighted to welcome Hilary Swank for an onstage conversation about her methodology and responsibility as an artist, her chameleonic performances, her upcoming projects, and her work on What They Had.