Hilary Swank Sacrificed Her Career to Care for Her Ailing Father Who Abandoned Her in Childhood

11 months ago

Throughout her career, Hilary Swank has gained recognition for portraying tenacious and outlier characters. Her unwavering determination, evident in her transformation from childhood to her current age of 48, suggests that she may have developed this steely spirit at a young age.
Additionally, despite being a 2-time Academy Award winner, Swank prioritized her family and took a break from Hollywood for 3 years at the very peak of her career to look after her ailing father.

A difficult childhood

Hilary Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on July 30, 1974. She spent most of her early life in a trailer park in Bellingham, Washington. At the age of 15, Hilary Swank left school to pursue acting. While some of her teachers were supportive, others discouraged her, causing her to drop out. Later on, in 1990, her parents got divorced. With no place to live and little money, Hilary and her mother moved to California to pursue her acting career.

Mother and daughter were initially homeless and slept in their car for several weeks before a friend offered them a vacant house to sleep in at night. Despite their lack of furniture, they slept on air mattresses and left in the morning to give the friend space to sell the house. Eventually, as a result of her resilience and hard work, she ended up starring in numerous TV shows in the early 1990s, which ultimately led to her success in the entertainment industry.

Furthermore, Hilary landed her breakout role as a transgender boy in Boys Don’t Cry, which earned her an Oscar. She became a highly regarded actress, receiving a Hollywood Walk of Fame star and 2 more Academy Awards.

Hilary credits her background for keeping her grounded. “My background is not something I forget. It helps me not to take what I have for granted,” the star has said. She also acknowledges her mother’s unwavering support. When she received her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, she emotionally recounted when her mother was at a pay phone counting quarters as she called casting agents to sign her up.

Abandoning her career to nurse her ill father back to health

In 2014, Hilary’s father, Stephen Swank, became very ill and underwent a life-threatening surgery. Despite her flourishing career, the accomplished star made a bold decision to step back from acting to take care of him. The surgery was complex, and doctors warned her that Stephen only had a short time left if he did not receive a lung. The actress became her father’s health advocate during this period, and he took longer than anticipated to recover.

In an interview, Swank revealed that the experience of caring for her father was overwhelming and required a lot of energy. She advised those caring for loved ones to take time for themselves and be open about what they need from those around them to get support.

Hilary’s father sadly passed away in October 2021. She posted an emotional tribute on social media, “In October, my Dear Dad made his transition to the other side,” she wrote, adding that she “grew incredibly close” to her father during the difficult period in his life and their relationship became more profound. The experience helped Hilary let go of past hurt and better understand life’s true essence.

Her way back to stardom

The A-lister eventually returned to work in a starring role and noted that her father’s health experience influenced her work, and she took on parts that dealt with aging parents and family caregiving, like her role in the drama film, What They Had. In 2018, she starred in the FX limited series Trust, and 2 years later, she took a role in the thriller movie The Hunt.

Pregnant at 48

Recently, the 48-year-old actress announced that she was pregnant and would soon become a parent herself. “I’m going to be a mom! And not just of one, but of 2,” the P.S. I Love You star shared. She expressed joy and excitement, saying that it felt good to share the news with others. The actress also expressed her gratitude to her mother, Judy, who always believed in her and encouraged her to work hard and never give up.


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