Movies

Hilary Swank on ‘disappointing’ reaction to her living as a man for Boys Don’t Cry trans role: ‘I was really upset with the human race’


Hilary Swank portrayed Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry in 1999 and went on to win an Oscar for the role (Pictures: Getty)

Hilary Swank has reflected on her ‘life-changing’ experience playing trans man Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, while adding she was ‘deeply discouraged’ by people’s reactions to her living as a man beforehand in preparation for the role.

Boys Don’t Cry, which also stars Chloë Sevigny, tells the story of Brandon, who was raped and a week later murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska on New Year’s Eve 1993 at the age of 21.

Hilary won the 2000 best actress Oscar for her role in the film.

The star, who can currently be seen in new Netflix sci-fi series Away, recently told Queerty of the 1999 film: ‘It was clearly a life-changing experience for me. […]

‘I was able to learn about a person who was born in the same hospital I was born in [in Lincoln, Nebraska] two years before.’

On how she prepared for the role, Hilary said: ‘I went out and was living in the world as best as I could trying to pass as a boy. I was 24 years old.

Hilary Swank is known for roles in films such as The Hunt and Logan Lucky (Picture: Juan Rico / BACKGRID)
Brandon Teena, a trans man from Nebraska, was raped and a week later murdered at the age of 21 (Picture: AP)

‘What I saw and experienced was life-changing, because I scratched the surface of what it feels like to not be able to be defined by stereotypical, systemic ideas of how gender should be.

‘At times it was greatly disappointing and I was really upset with the human race. I was deeply discouraged by people and their reactions to me, the same exact person that had been walking around, and when I was able to be defined, was treated a very different way.’

Chloë Sevigny and Hilary in the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry (Picture: Allstar/20TH CENTURY FOX)

The film ended up being a success with critics, with many lauding it as the best film of the year. However, the film has a divisive legacy, with some viewers taking issue with the role of Brandon going to a cisgendered actor.

Hilary’s other film roles include Logan Lucky and The Hunt.

She won her second best actress Oscar for Million Dollar Baby in 2005.

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