Boys Don’t Cry star Hilary Swank says trans actors are ‘fighting for space’ in Hollywood

Hilary Swank says trans actor would've been better for Boys Don't Cry

Boys Don’t Cry star Hilary Swank has spoken about previously playing a transgender man on screen, in the wake of controversy over trans roles.

Scarlett Johansson dropped out of the film Rub and Tug on July 13 after widespread anger at reports she would play real-life trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill on screen.

In the wake of the controversy, major production companies and talent agencies backed an inclusion campaign that cautions against casting major cisgender stars as trans people in projects, warning that it “simply isn’t cost effective to take this risk.”

Actress Hilary Swank holds her Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in Boys Don’t Cry at the 57th Golden Globes in Beverly Hills. (Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her role as murdered transgender teen Brandon Teena in 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry.

Speaking to G2, Swank opened up about her role in light of the recent controversy.

She acknowledged “[people] who have said I shouldn’t have done Boys Don’t Cry”, adding that much had changed on transgender issues since 1999 when the film was made.

She said: “At the time, the whole community was grateful that I did it because they said, had it been someone who was from this experience, people would have said: ‘Oh, you’re just telling your personal story.'”

However she agreed that trans actors should be given opportunities to break through. The domination of trans roles by cis actors is cited by stars as one of the main reasons for the lack of trans role models in the industry.

Swank said: “What’s hard is that not everyone is given an opportunity, and that’s where I think the struggle is.”

Hilary Swank stars in Boys Don’t Cry (Getty)


“The important thing to remember is people are wanting to be seen for who they are, and people are fighting for their space in the world. That I understand.”

Swank added: “I do think it can be a slippery slope, because I don’t think anyone should be pigeonholed. And I do think that all genders should have an opportunity to be an actor and tell their stories. And I think that all genders should have the opportunity to audition for all types of roles.

“I was honoured to be a part of the beginning of an important conversation. The community means a great deal to me.

“We all have the underlying sameness of wanting to be loved; to give love, to receive love. We all experience pain. It might be from different circumstances, but the pain is the same.”

Brandon Teena, who Swank played, was brutally murdered in a hate crime incident aged 21.

Hilary Swank stars in Boys Don’t Cry (Getty)

The Nebraska trans man was raped and murdered by John Lotter and Tom Nissen.

Lotter, who received a death sentence, is still awaiting execution. Nissen is serving three life sentences

Swank was awarded the Academy Award and Golden Globe for her role as Teena.