Hilary Swank is photographed in a Toronto hotel as

first_img Hilary Swank is photographed in a Toronto hotel as she promotes the movie “What They Had,” during the Toronto International Film Festival, on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young Hilary Swank stars in ‘What They Had’ after taking care of her ailing father TORONTO – Hilary Swank has never seen a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the basis of her new film “What They Had.”But she does know what it’s like to care for someone fighting for their life.The two-time Oscar-winning actress, who stars as the daughter of Blythe Danner’s Alzheimer’s-stricken character, says she largely stepped away from the spotlight for the past three years to be the sole caretaker for her dad as he recovered from a lung transplant.“It was one of the best things I could have done for myself, for a lot of reasons,” Swank said in an interview at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival, where “What They Had” screened.“It made me realize that I’m so much more than just an actor. I’ve been an actor since I was 15 and I’ve worked every single year. And to step away from it and to know that that’s not who I am — it’s a part of who I am, but it’s not who I am — was really important for me as a woman.”It also gave her more appreciation for her career, added Swank, who won an Oscar for her leading role as a transgender man in 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” and another for playing a boxer in 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.”“I realized how much I love this craft, how much I love telling stories about people who enrich my life and make me see the world in a deeper, more thoughtful way,” said the Nebraska native.“Now, strangely, I’m getting more opportunities than I’ve ever gotten. I think that’s an exciting time for women.”In theatres Friday in Toronto and Vancouver, “What They Had” is from first-time writer and director Elizabeth Chomko, based on her own experiences with her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.Swank and Michael Shannon play the children of Danner’s character, while Robert Forster plays her husband and Taissa Farmiga plays the grandchild. Forster’s character resists putting his wife into assisted living, and the children grapple with their mother’s condition while also facing their own personal struggles and family dysfunction.Signing on to a project from a first-time filmmaker was a risk, Swank said, but Chomko told her, “If it’s not authentic, then don’t do it.”The actress also heeded advice she got long ago from “Million Dollar Baby” writer-director Clint Eastwood in making her decision.“He said, ‘You always aim for the bull’s eye but you don’t always hit it,’ and that can be with an esteemed director as well,” Swank said.“Certainly you have a little bit more of a cushion and a protection around somebody who has experience. But I think when you sit down with someone, you get an essence of who they are really quickly, and Elizabeth is very articulate and very smart and she’s ego-less.”Making the film, and facing her father’s condition, made Swank realize: “All we have is our health.”“It puts everything into perspective, really, that life is fleeting and you really have to cease the day and be in the moment and be there for one another, and really not stress about things that aren’t important,” Swank said.“That was an important lesson for me and I haven’t lost it. It wasn’t something that was fleeting and just came to me in that moment and then went away. I think the same thing with anyone dealing with an illness and a disease that threatens your life — and our memories are certainly our life.”Swank is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and always has been, she said, calling it “a fundamental way of being.”“It’s just who I am,” she said. “To me, being active is kind of like the air that I breathe and the food that I eat. Without it, I don’t feel good and I don’t like to not feel good.”center_img by Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 23, 2018 8:23 am PDT Last Updated Oct 23, 2018 at 9:01 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Emaillast_img