Oscar Actors: Swank, Hilary in Boys Don't Cry

Coming out of “nowhere,” Hilary Swank also gave an atypical Oscar performance, as Brandon Teena in “Boys Don't Cry.”

It was a truly revelatory performance, an indelible turn that won virtually every pre-Oscar trophy: the New York and the Los Angeles Critics, and Golden Globe Awards. It took years for director Kimberly Peirce to cast the role. Numerous actresses auditioned, but the director was determined to go with an unknown. For her test, Swank dressed as a boy, and when shooting began, she cut her hair, bound her breasts, and lost herself completely, which was crucial to the role. Swank nudged Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds) aside in the promisingnewcomer sweepstakes with her portrayal of Brandon

Teena, a doomed young woman who dresses and lives her life as a man. Beating out four actresses, she not only raised the profile of a tiny independent movie, but also transformed her career, which began inauspiciously with The Karate Kid IV and a part in TV's Beverly Hills 90212. “I pray for the day when we celebrate our diversity,” Swank said in her acceptance speech.