Oscar gold may be priceless, but the hard-earned payout that helped Hilary Swank get there didn’t necessarily fill her coffers.
During a recent appearance on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show Chelsea, the two-time Oscar winner revealed that she was paid just $3,000 to work on the film that would eventually win her her first statuette: Boys Don’t Cry.
“So when I did Boys Don’t Cry, I was 24 years old,” she said during a dinner-style round-table chat involving Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay, actress Connie Britton and Miss USA Deshauna Barber. In her groundbreaking performance, Swank played real-life transgender man Brandon Teena, who was raped and murdered in 1993.
“I made $3,000. In order to have health insurance, you have to make $5,000. So I didn’t even know that I didn’t have health insurance until I went and tried to get a prescription filled,” Swank, 42, recalled. “They said, ‘That’s $160.’ I went, ‘Um, did you try my insurance?’ They said, ‘Mmm-hmm.’ I had an Academy Award, no health insurance.”
Swank would go on to win a second Best Actress Oscar five years later for her pull-no-punches turn as an ill-fated female boxer in Clint Eastwood‘s 2004 drama Million Dollar Baby. The victory, which solidified her reputation as one of Hollywood’s most versatile and astonishing actresses, didn’t appear to help her at the negotiating table.
“Then I win my second Academy Award, and the next couple movies later, I get offered a movie,” she said. “But the male hadn’t had any kind of critical success, but had been in a movie where he was hot. And he got offered $10 million, and I got offered $500,000. That’s the truth. The truth,” she added, to the shock of her companions at the interview.
“So I said, ‘No,’ ” she added. “And then they went and found a newcomer who did it for $50,000. So they made a savings of [$450,000], probably to give the guy his bonuses.”
These days Swank, who recently appeared in the 2014 indie drama You’re Not You, has been branching out beyond Hollywood. The actress recently announced that she’s launching a line of athletic and leisure wear called Mission Statement, which she describes as a mix of “high performance and high fashion.”