Hilary Swank on Portraying Characters Who “Don’t Give Up” and the Best Things About Being an Actor


“One of the greatest things about being an actor is that it blows open your own limited ways of viewing the world.” – Hilary Swank

Two-time Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank became the latest big-name actress to star in a streaming series with Netflix’s series Away. In Away, Swank portrays astronaut Emma Green, the commanding officer of the first manned mission to Mars. Talking about the series with Netflix Queue, Swank describes what she enjoys most about the series and why she prefers to portray flawed characters.

Emma Stone's Advice to Actors
Emma Stone's Advice to Actors

Swank notes that one of the great joys of working on the series was to have the opportunity to speak with astronauts to learn about their profession. She says, “That’s the great thing about being an actor: I get to walk in other people’s shoes, see through their eyes. Whatever field it is that I’m exploring as an actor, I get to talk to people who are the best in that field.”

While astronauts are extraordinary individuals, Swank points out that she has little interest in portraying characters without flaws. She explains, “The characters I’m drawn to are women who persevere and never give up under any circumstance. Of course, they falter; of course, they flounder; of course, they struggle. They’re not made of steel. They’re humans who are trying to find their way. But no matter what, they don’t give up. I find that in real life, that’s what inspires me most about the human race.”

Like many other actresses who have spent most of their careers in film, Swank has recently turned to television roles. In addition to Away, in 2018 she starred in the FX series Trust and has also voiced a character on the animated series BoJack Horseman. She remarks that she enjoys the opportunity to play a character over a longer period of time, saying, “One of the greatest things about being an actor is that it blows open your own limited ways of viewing the world. When you get the ability to explore a character for 10 episodes, you can really dive into the gradations of emotion. You have the challenge of finding a new way to play a certain emotion that’s different from how you did it the last time. That’s very human: We grow. It’s so great to have a series like this, where you get to play in that playground and grow as an actor.”

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