March 2003
The Core : An Interview with Hilary Swank

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

The Core: An Interview with Hilary Swank

Winning an Oscar definitely has its highlights. One of them is getting cast in films you would never be considered for in the first place. For Hilary Swank, things have turned out great, so far. Since winning the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Brandon Teena in Boys Donít Cry, Ms. Swank has done The Giftwith Cate Blanchett and Keanu Reeves. She also played the lead role in The Affair of the Necklace. Last year, she played opposite Oscar winners Al Pacino and Robin Williams in Insomnia. In her latest film, The Core, Hilary Swank plays an astronaut who must become a ďterranautĒ to save the Earth. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Ms. Swank talks about her role in the film and her latest theater work.


WM: How long did it take you to understand whatís going in The Core in terms of the plot?

HS: I think the beautiful thing about this movie is that a lot of people have saying in the scientific area that it puts the science back into science fiction. So much of science fiction is just fiction nowadays. So itís a very smart movie and I think that what happens is that the electro magnetic field around the core of the Earth stopped spinning. Itís a true fact that if the Earth stopped spinning, everything would go haywire. Doves would fall out of the sky because their field of flying is all generated on the pull of the Earth and everything. So if the Earth stopped spinning, then weíre all doomed. Although probable, the chances of it really happening are very slim. I think thatís what makes the movie a great ride; itís knowing something that could happen, but thatís not going to happen unless you go along with it. In the movie, we (the cast) go down to start the electro magnetic field around the core of the Earth to jump start it. We go down and drop explosives around the core and kick starts it and you have to be specific in doing this. For the mission to be successful, this task must be done correctly.


WM: Were you totally absorbed in your character with all the emotions attached with it?

HS: Iím not usually a science fiction fan or even a special effects fan. This movie to me was about something deeper. I think when you say the names of the actor in the film; it doesnít conjure up special effects science fiction. I think it speaks of how smart the film is another level and the challenges that were there for me as an actor. Not only because I was reacting to special effects that werenít happening yet and the challenges that that brought. A lot of people that I have become close to in the movie, those characters are put in danger because they are trying to save the Earth.


WM: What was it that drew you to do this film? Was it the cast, the plot, or the fact that you would the play the role of a pilot?

HS: First of all, the script was sent to me as a science fiction special effects movie but a lot of different than what we have seen before. I read it and it was. I thought that all the characters were really fleshed and really real within all the special effects. I have always wanted to be an astronaut. Itís the first thing I wanted to be and itís challenging, and a whole new genre I havenít done.


WM: Now that you have one sci-fi film under your belt, would you do another?

HS: It always depends on the script. I didnít think Iíd ever do a film like this but that you have to be open to things. Had I said to my agent, ďDonít ever send me science fiction moviesĒ, I would never have been sent this. Iím always looking for something that I love and can relate to in one way or another. With my character Rebecca Childs, I could relate to her. Sheís this strong woman whoís really driven and successful in a manís world and I thought that really cool.


WM: Are you comfortable with the patriotic undertones in the film in light of whatís going on with Iraq?

HS: Honestly, I think this is a movie people will go to and escape from all of the stuff thatís happening and to me, thatís what my job is as an entertainer. To go and give people a place to go and maybe learn about something new or get lost in another person that they can relate to or just flat out be entertained. Itís an intense state of affairs right now in the world.


WM: Many people didnít who you were when you won the Oscar a few years. Do you think thatís changed now from the subsequent work youíve done? Is there a pressure for you since youíve won?

HS: No. Being nominated and receiving the Oscar has opened a lot of doors that I donít think ever would have opened to me before, so Iím really grateful for it. Itís been no curse, but a total blessing. I donít think I would be getting all these opportunities had that not happened.


WM: What do you look for in a role? Do you think about the box office or the character?

HS: Itís a catch 22 because usually you want to do things that you just love and a lot of times in order to do those things, you have to do a movie that makes money so that you can keep doing things that you love. For me, Iím not willing to compromise my heart as well. If I find something, which I did in ďThe CoreĒ, a great movie that could be really big that I really loved that way no matter what happens, I followed my heart.


WM: Do you think any Hollywood film and role you now do can top the role you won the Oscar for, which was independently financed?

HS: No because now I have an opportunity to do both. I can do independents and I can do big movies. Before I would have had the opportunity to do big movies too, but it would have in the small independent realm. Now if anything, it has afforded me more opportunities. I just a movie called ď11:14Ē, which cost $3 million dollars. The director, Greg Marcks, wrote this great thing which was new and fresh, and I said, ďI want to do this so you can get your movie made.Ē Thereís a filmmaker right there that it was wonderful to help out because I think heís really talented and heís going to have a really good career.


WM: Whatís the film about?

HS: ď11:14Ē is a film where I play a girl who works a local grocery store. Itís another character film. Itís similar to ďRun, Lola, RunĒ.


WM: How much time researching your role for ďThe CoreĒ?

HS: Didnít do as much research as I had done in other movies. I wanted to go to space camp but they told me my time in space would be limited and I wouldnít even be floating. I sat down with Susan Marks, whoís an astronaut, and picked her brain. She was very generous with her time and let me pick away. I asked her everything because her background is similar my character as far as being in the Air Force. Sheís actually a Colonel. She was plucked out because sheís so amazing at what she did there by NASA.


WM: What are your thoughts on the Columbia shuttle that went down and how Paramount pulled the trailer to this film that showed you in a shuttle?

HS: What happened was that our trailer opened in the same weekend when the shuttle went down so it out of respect for the families of those astronauts who died. No sense in giving them a commercial that serves as a reminder of what happened. Nothing was cut from the film because the shuttle scene is very minor.


(l to r) Delroy Lindo as Brazzelton, Tcheky Karyo as Serge, Aaron Eckhart as Josh, Hilary Swank as Beck, Bruce Greenwood as Iverson and Stanley Tucci as ZimskyWM: You have decided to do theater next. What brought you to do ďThe Miracle WorkerĒ?

HS: For me, I have always loved the theater. Iíve always been inspired by people in the theater and I thought, ďIíd like to do a play.Ē Iíd like to challenge myself in a whole new area. If Iím not challenging myself, then somethingís wrong. I like to stretch myself, and I felt like this play was it for me.


WM: Knowing that Anne Bancroft won an Oscar for this role, was there any intimidation factor?

HS: There absolutely was. I knew that this had been done before and it was done really well and but it really hasnít been done since. I liked that this is the revival of it. It was one of the first movies that I saw so I was really looking forward to being able to inspire kids in a way that inspired me. Itís been challenging. Iím exhausted to the bone, physically and mentally.