Hilary Swank, 43, made her film debut in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1992, before her breakout role in The Karate Kid franchise, a year later. Five years on, she earned her first Oscar for Best Actress for Boys Don’t Cry and followed up in 2004 with the sports drama Million Dollar Baby when she landed a second Oscar.
She went onto star in other films such as Red Dust, P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers, and The Homesman. Now in the upcoming TV series, Trust, she plays Gail Getty, mother of John Paul Getty III, who was abducted in by the Italian mafia in Rome in the 70s. He was the then-heir to Getty Oil. We caught up with the star to discuss her new role.
Good to see you! It’s been a while!
Well, first of all, I don’t know if you know, but I took 3 years off to take care of my dad. He had a lung transplant and I was his sole caretaker. They gave him 3 years to live if he didn’t get the lung transplant and it’s the hardest surgery you can undergo. I was the only person that could help him through this. I was in a blessed position because I could take time off of work, so he moved in with me. It was touch and go for a while after the transplant because after the first year there were still a lot of complications, so when I ended up taking 3 years off it was not exactly what I had anticipated. But I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
And this is your return to TV after a long time. Why this? Why now?
Danny Boyle called me and said, ‘I’m doing a story on the Getty’s and I’d love for you to be a part of it.’ I didn’t even have to read it. I was like, ‘Where do you want me and when?’
What did you know about the story?
I’d heard of the kidnapping but I didn’t know anything other than that. And I knew of the Getty’s. I mean, we all know of them.
John Paul Getty was one of the wealthiest people in the world but he was also extremely frugal. You’ve talked about growing up frugally and I was wondering how has your relationship has changed towards money?
Well, it’s interesting. I wouldn’t say that we grew up frugally. I would say we grew up with no money. We couldn’t even be frugal. We were forced to live by our means and when you grow up like that it informs who you are in so many ways. I would say that no matter what my income is I’m still cognizant about money and how I spend it. I’m not a freewheeler with it. Like anyone, I look for a deal. I look for the best airline ticket prices like everybody else.
What do you splurge on?
I spend money on my family. I do spend money on travelling because I like experiences and I do spend money like on massages, facials. I like that kind of pampering stuff, and trainers. I like to exercise.
What’s your favourite travel destination?
I did a movie in Australia and in New Zealand. I had been to Australia when I was maybe, I don’t know, 20 years old. I turned 20 there and I was in the Great Barrier Reef. I love that country so much, but I love expanses of land. I love cities but I also just love nature so much.
And New Zealand?
New Zealand was so captivating, it was so prehistoric. To think that you could walk somewhere that no man or woman has ever set foot on! First of all, I think it’s incredible that you could literally step on soil that no-one’s ever been. I’ve experienced so many different places from the age of 16, and to see a place and have your jaw drop and be gobsmacked, that I think is really something. I could move to New Zealand. I’m that crazy about it.
Why do you think the Getty story is so fascinating?
I think there’s an infatuation with money. Across the span of time people have been infatuated with money, either having it, getting it and then everything falling apart because of it. It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? Some people who don’t have it that want it, and then they get it, it can bring on so much responsibility and stress that it’s not worth it in some ways. I think people come to terms with it when they’re on their deathbed. They realise what’s important is family and love and your experiences and what you left in the world through who you were. No-one ever says, ‘Oh, I certainly wish I would have had more money.’
That’s true. Not everyone worships money.
Yes. Well, Gail Getty, to use her as an example, wasn’t interested in money. She just wanted her son to be alive. She didn’t ask when she got a divorce for anything and she wanted to take care of herself. That’s somebody who married into it but that wasn’t what was captivating to her.
During your hiatus from Hollywood was there anything you missed about it?
After all these years you wouldn’t think that you’d feel rusty but I did kind of think, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s been so long!’ If anything, it gave me a deeper appreciation for telling stories and the collaborative experience.