Originally from Bellingham, Wash., Hilary Swank began acting professionally at age 16. In 2000 she won her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “Boys Don’t Cry,” and matched that with another win in 2005 for “Million Dollar Baby.”
She has won 35 other awards, including a 2005 Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award also for “Million Dollar Baby.” In “The Reaping,” an action-packed thriller about occurrences believed to be linked to the 10 Biblical Plagues, Swank plays a former missionary who rejects her faith and spends the rest of her career debunking religious
Swank spoke with “The Temple News” on faith, her attraction to particular roles and how Hurricane Katrina affected the filming of her latest, “The Reaping,” which opens in theaters April 5.
The Temple News: What did you need to do to prepare for your role? Did you have to go back and re-read parts of the Bible?
Hilary Swank: Well I did, because I played a person who was a missionary and had faith in the beginning and then loses the faith. There are a lot of books out there: “Skeptical Inquirer,” Stephen Hopkins made me read it, so I read that. I read a lot about the plagues and I had never heard about a lot of these things, so it’s really interesting that people think there are these scientific outlooks.
TTN: Did working on this film challenge your own faith?
HS: It didn’t, but it was definitely an interesting
outlook, just to see the other people’s way of thinking. And part of what I love about being an actor is getting to see other ways of life and other ways of thinking.
TTN: As a two-time Ooscar winner, you are afforded the opportunity to pick and choose your own roles. What makes you pick your roles?
HS: I simply go by the script – it’s all script, and it’s just my reaction to the script. It has to be challenging, it doesn’t matter what genre. I could laugh, cry or be in suspense. It’s just completely what’s on the page.
TTN: Playing this role, did you know which parts would be the scariest?
HS: That’s a great question because even though I read the script and acted, when I watched the movie, I was scared, and all of my friends looked at me [funny], but it happens. And I forgot that some of those things had happened.
TTN: Sshooting was delayed because of Hhurricane Katrina. What was that experience like, and did you see the aftermath?
HS: Yeah, being down there we did, and I was really grateful to Joel Silver and the studio because we could easily have finished shooting somewhere else, but they wanted to make sure that the people who lost their homes didn’t also lose their jobs.
And it’s a big budget movie, so hopefully some of the money went back to rebuilding. I was really glad to be able to go back down, it’s a wonderful state and I met a lot of great people down there.
TTN: This film is heavy on special effects, often relying on the blue screen. What is more challenging: portraying human emotion or trying to create an effect for something you can’t see?
HS: One isn’t more challenging than the other, but that’s what I love, it’s different from what I’ve done before. You don’t have anything and it mixes it up, that’s what I love, I love the challenge. The locusts weren’t there. It’s nothing, it’s pretend, but to see it on the screen is great. It’s great how a film can do that.
TTN: Director Sstephen Hhopkins has recently done a lot of TV work. Is the way he works any different from directors?
HS: No, you know, I’ve been a fan of Stephen’s for a long time, and I became a fan of his when I first saw “24.” He did the pilot and the first few episodes. I thought that he’s a visually strong director, we really needed that, and I really went out and sought Stephen out. I think he has a lot of talent and did a good job of bringing this together.
Jess Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.