Directed by Kimberly Peirce, 1999’s biographical movie Boys Don’t Cry, starring Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, and more, follows the dramatized version of Brandon Teena’s real-life story. Swank plays Teena, a trans man on a journey to find himself and love in Nebraska who ends up being a victim of a brutal hate crime.

The critics praised the movie, which received a limited release at the time, with special mentions for Swank and Sevigny’s performances in the movie. Critics also praised the way Peirce depicted the theme of the movie, keeping in mind that it is a sensitive subject. Hilary Swank reflects on her decision to star as a trans man.

Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry

Hilary Swank wants a trans actor to play Brandon Teena from Boys Don’t Cry

Hilary Swank impressed the audience when she starred as a real-life trans man, Brandon Teena, in Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 biographical movie Boys Don’t Cry. She not only impressed the audience but her role initiated a conversation that was needed and is still needed in the society. For her exceptional performance she won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2000. In her interview with The Times of London, the actress decided to reflect on her decision to star as a trans-man;

“Now, for the most part, in most places, it’s accepted to be a trans person. But at that time, people weren’t even coming out as gay or lesbian; it was a career killer or whatever. They weren’t ready to tell their family, or maybe they weren’t ready to tell themselves. We’re in such different times—I feel like it would be a great opportunity for an actor who’s trans to play that role.”

Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank says a trans actor should now play the character

She further mentioned that she understands that actors are actors and they are supposed to play different people, and she hopes that now trans actors also get an opportunity to play non-trans character on-screen. Swank noted in her interview that she is glad to be a part of a movie that helped the audience understand such a sensitive topic, adding that it was like jumping off the board to start a conversation that was needed.

Also Read: “It wasn’t easy”: $70M Rich Hilary Swank on Giving Birth to Twins at 48

The actress said that society needs this conversation and will continue to need it until everyone’s living a safe life. Back when she accepted her Academy Award for Best Actress, Swank did not forget to thank Teena and said,

“His legacy lives on through our movie, to remind us to always be ourselves, to follow our hearts, and to not conform. I pray for the day where we not only accept our differences, but we actually celebrate our diversity.”

Back in 2020, the actress shared with Variety that despite trans people having their lives and living, there is a long way to go in terms of safety and inclusivity. She mentioned that a lot of trans actors are better suited for the role she played years ago.

Hilary Swank recalls sleeping in a car with her mother before making her way as a successful actress

In her interview with the Wall Street Journal, the actress recalls her earliest days in Los Angeles while she was trying to make her way to the top spot. She revealed that she was living in a car with her newly-separated mother.

“My mother and I first lived in her Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme on quite residential streets. When we weren’t sleeping in the car, we stayed at the house of a new friend my age whose family had just moved out and were trying to see their home. We slept on an air mattress.”

Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank will forever be grateful to her mother for being her biggest supporter

The actress further revealed in the interview that it didn’t bother her much because she was grateful for having food and a roof over her head, but the social rejection was too much to ignore after a while. She said that her friends’ parents excluded her from dinners and play dates because she was living in a trailer park. She mentioned that her mother has always been a huge support to her as she understood her excitement to be an actress and for that she will always be grateful.

Also Read: “If it gets to your heart, that’s it”: Hilary Swank Kept a Life-Threatening Secret from Clint Eastwood That Could Have Nearly Killed Her

Hilary Swank mentioned that she is happy that they eventually left Los Angeles, but every time she is there for meetings, she makes sure to drive along the street in Pasadena, where she and her mother slept. She noted that despite the challenges she faced at the time, she feels nostalgia for the days when they had nothing.

Boys Don’t Cry is available for VOD on Prime Video.

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