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Hilary Swank reveals she used to live out of car with her mother

The actor got candid about her brush with homelessness as an actor in Los Angeles

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Wednesday 21 February 2024 22:14 GMT
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Hilary Swank has revealed that she and her mother used to live out of their car before she became famous.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the 49-year-old Oscar winner shared that during her early days as an aspiring teenage actor in Los Angeles, she and her mother Judy lived in their car after her mother had recently separated from her father, Stephen.

“In LA, my mother and I first lived in her Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme on quiet residential streets,” she recalled. “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 sell their home. We slept on an air mattress.”

Since she was a child, Swank had dealt with financial insecurity, having lived in a trailer park home in Bellingham, Washington. She told the outlet that while she had always tried to look at the positive side of things, grateful that she had access to food and shelter, the social rejection she faced from her more well-off peers was isolating.

“It wasn’t until my friends’ parents excluded me from dinners and playdates that I realised living in a trailer park made me an outcast,” she explained. “Though I knew I was perceived as different, I didn’t immediately understand the classism. Then I did. I also understood that where we lived was a bigger issue for people than who I was.”

The Million Dollar Baby actor said she eventually found a sense of belonging in the local theatre community, where she honed her acting skills and eventually decided to pursue acting as a real profession. After sleeping in their car, her mother eventually found secretarial work and they were able to rent a bedroom in Burbank.

After signing with agent Bonnie Liedtke - who reportedly discovered Leonardo DiCaprio - she met with casting directors and broke out with roles on TV shows like Harry and the Hendersons, Evening Shade, Growing Pains, and made her film debut in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“I was excited to be living my dream,” she said, crediting her mother with encouraging her to pursue her goals. ”She understood the excitement of performing and why acting made me come alive.”

Now a two-time Oscar winner thanks to her roles in 1999’s Boy’s Dont Cry and 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, Swank says she looks back on her humble beginnings with “nostalgia” for simpler times. She admitted, “Even though I’m happy we left LA every so often, when I’m there for meetings, I’ll drive along a street in Pasadena where my mom and I parked and slept. Despite the challenges, I feel nostalgia for those days, when we had nothing.”

Swank is currently promoting her film Ordinary Angels which is set to be released in theatres on 22 February 2024. The story follows a woman who rallies her local community to help a widower save his ailing daughter’s life.

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