Named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2000, 2004 and 2005.
Swank won the lead role of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999) after hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. She told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and hailed from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was fibbing (except about being from Lincoln, Nebraska, where she was, in fact, born); when Peirce later confronted her with the lies, Swank winningly responded: "But that's what Brandon would do." Later, she cut off all of her hair and lived as a boy for a month to prepare herself for the role.
Acting professionally since she was age 16, Swank was discovered as a child actor by producer Suzy Sachs.
Has a parrot and a cat named Tallinn.
Competed in the Junior Olympics and Washington state championships in swimming; ranked fifth in the state in all-around gymnastics.
Ex-sister-in-law of Rob Lowe and makeup artist Sheryl Berkoff, Swank met Chad Lowe in 1997 on the set of Quiet Days in Hollywood (1997), and the two wed five months later. In June 2002, they moved into a 4-story brownstone home in Greenwich Village (New York City) purchased for $4 million. In January 2006, it was announced that Swank and Chad Lowe were separating after eight years of marriage.
Mother Judy Swank moved with her to Los Angeles at age 16, where, impoverished for a while, they lived out of their car.
Earned $75 a day for the drama movie Boys Don't Cry (1999).
Auditioned for the role of Lucy Hatcher on the television series The Practice (1997), which went to Marla Sokoloff.
Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Dominguez, was born in California, to a family of Mexican ancestry (with Spanish and Native American roots). Her other ancestry is English and German, with smaller amounts of Northern Irish (Scots-Irish), Swiss-German, Dutch, Scottish and Welsh. Her patrilineal line traces back to Balthasar Swank, who was born in Wuerttemberg, Germany, c. 1716. Her paternal grandmother was born in England.
Hilary's 20th birthday party was a 1974 themed party and was held in Hollywood at The Crush Bar.
Although she was naturally athletic from high school, she totally changed physically to play Maggie in Million Dollar Baby (2004). She gained nearly 20 pounds, becoming so buff that her former clothes are still too small for her.
Attended Santa Monica College.
Is the first woman to receive an Academy Award in a role as a boxer.
Is the third youngest actress to receive two Best Actress Academy Awards. Luise Rainer and Jodie Foster were the first and second, respectively.
(January 15, 2005) Fined NZ$200 (AUD$190) for bringing undeclared fruit into New Zealand. She was found with an apple and orange at New Zealand's Auckland International Airport. She has since contested the fine.
Both of her Oscar-winning roles required huge physical changes.
Has two dogs: Karoo, a Corgi/Jack Russell mix, and Lucky, a German Shepherd/Labarador Retriever mix.
Announced that she and her husband Chad Lowe are separating after 8 years of marriage. [January 2006]
Her performance as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999) is ranked #83 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Replaced Sandra Bullock as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (2004) after Bullock dropped out due to other commitments.
Studied acting with Larry Moss.
Received a cut on the forehead during filming a scene of her movie P.S. I Love You (2007). She had to be brought to a hospital and received several stitches. [November 2006]
Awarded an Emery Award from the Hetrick-Martin Institute for her role as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999), for which Swank won the first of her two Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Actress. [November 2006]
For a few weeks before Boys Don't Cry (1999) began filming, she went out in public dressed as a boy. Many were fooled by the disguise.
Was declared #6 on the show "Hollywood's Ten Best Beauty to Beast" transformations for the way she looked in Boys Don't Cry (1999). Three other actresses on the list were nominated for Oscars for their movies and two won: Charlize Theron (Monster (2003)), Halle Berry (Monster's Ball (2001)) and Salma Hayek (Frida (2002)).
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on January 8, 2007.
Made her film debut in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992).
Considers herself a spiritual person, although she isn't member of an organized religion.
Born to Stephen Swank, a Air National Guard officer, and his then wife Judy Swank (née Clough), a secretary and dancer, she has a brother, Dan. She grew up in Bellingham, Washington, where she went to Sehome High School.
Swank was listed as a potential nominee on the 2008 Razzie Award nominating ballot in the Worst Actress category for her performances in P.S. I Love You (2007) and The Reaping (2007). Fortunately for her, she was not nominated.
Is only one of seven actors who have a 2-0 winning record when nominated for an acting Oscar, her two wins for Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). The others are Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937); Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); Helen Hayes for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) and Airport (1970); Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects (1995) and American Beauty (1999); Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012); and Mahershala Ali for Moonlight (2016) and Green Book (2018).
Campaigned for the role of Christine Collins in Changeling (2008), but lost the role to Angelina Jolie.
On both occasions when Swank won the Academy Award, Annette Bening was nominated in the same category.
Was considered for the role of Satine in Moulin Rouge! (2001), but Nicole Kidman, who went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, was cast instead.
Cast as Madeline Linscott in The Black Dahlia (2006) after Eva Green turned down the role.
Was originally cast as Rachel in Something Borrowed (2011), but after dropping out of the project, Ginnifer Goodwin was cast instead.
Best friends with actress Mariska Hargitay.
Took boxing lessons at Gleason's Gym in New York City, in anticipation of her lead role as the female boxer in Clint Eastwood's film Million Dollar Baby (2004) (original title "Rope Burns"), which was scheduled to begin filming in Los Angeles, California in June 2004. [April 2004]
Was the 117th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Boys Don't Cry (1999) at The 72nd Annual Academy Awards (2000) on March 26, 2000.
She was signed on for two years but was fired from Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990) after only doing 16 episodes in 1998. She was later thankful because she was able to go for her role in Boys Don't Cry (1999); winning her first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role just two years later.
Is one of 12 actresses who won the Best Actress Oscar for a movie that also won the Best Picture Oscar (she won for Million Dollar Baby (2004)). The others are Claudette Colbert for It Happened One Night (1934), Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind (1939), Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver (1942), Louise Fletcher for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Diane Keaton for Annie Hall (1977), Shirley MacLaine for Terms of Endearment (1983), Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Jodie Foster for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Frances McDormand for Nomadland (2020).
Announced her engagement to her boyfriend of eight (8) months, Rubén Torres, on March 21, 2016. However, the engagement was broken off three months later, in June 2016.
Co-starred with Aaron Eckhart twice: The Core (2003) and The Black Dahlia (2006).
On August 18, 2018, Swank wed her boyfriend of two years, Philip Schneider, at the Santa Lucia Preserve (in Carmel, California). They met on a blind date set up by actor Misha Collins's wife, Victoria Vantoch. Swank and Schneider were engaged a year and a half later.
She has appeared in one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Boys Don't Cry (1999).
Swank filed a lawsuit against the trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, asking a federal judge to order the trustees to resume coverage of her treatment for recurrent malignant ovarian cysts.