A professional actress since the age of 16, when she moved to Los Angeles from Bellingham, WA, Hilary Swank first appeared onscreen in 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two years later, she earned a rudimentary degree of fame when she was picked to star in The Next Karate Kid, but this recognition proved fleeting. Swank subsequently appeared in a number of minor films and did a year-long stint on Beverly Hills 90210. In 1999, however, she won both acclaim and recognition for her lead role in Kimberly Peirce's independent drama Boys Don't Cry. Based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a woman whose decision to lead her life as a man met with dire consequences, Boys Don't Cry was one of the year's most lauded films, with particular praise going to Swank for her stunning performance. She went on to win a number of honors for her work in the film, including Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Actress, at the mere age of 25.
Predictably, Swank's workload increased significantly after her Oscar win in 2001, and the actress found herself starring in several lesser known but nonetheless challenging roles, including Sam Raimi's psychological thriller The Gift, as well as The Affair of the Necklace with future Oscar winner Adrien Brody. She also accepted a meaty supporting role as an eager-to-please rookie detective alongside Hollywood veteran Al Pacino in 2002's Insomnia. However, Swank did take a break from brooding period pieces and serious explorations of sexuality for one unapologetic big-budget summer blockbuster -- Jon Amiel's The Core (2003), in which she co-starred as one of several individuals chosen to journey to the Earth's core in hopes of jump-starting the collapsing electromagnetic forces.