Hilary Swank on 'What They Had' and returning to acting after caring for her dad

Swank appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" and talks about her new film, "What They Had."
3:00 | 10/26/18

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Transcript for Hilary Swank on 'What They Had' and returning to acting after caring for her dad
Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers this is popcorn where we tell you what's happening at the movies and there's movie now called what they had. It broke my heart. Made me laugh at the broke my heart again and a lot of it is at fault of my guest today Hilary Swank high school stars in this movie yeah I'm so lucky we'll welcome to the Shelley ain't real happy so nice to be here that you and I wanna calling him a crucial all you. I hope I can and I. An angry mean that the children and Rudy perpich that this little billion dollar is well maybe not the Il park. I don't know what she was doing he's not high heeled Erie measure doing with it but. Tell us a little bit about what what they had it and walk the track did you. While you know I feel like there's a lot of things that attracted me to one and I feel like it's one of them more vulnerable than ever played because. There was nothing to hide behind there was no accent there was no. You know putting on muscle or are playing ways we box think a code yak in it was me. Playing a woman trying to figure it out and trying to. Navigate the waters of finding out that a family member has the disease and what do you do with and it shines a bright light on. And family dynamics. You know this strengths and weaknesses of family and this movie is about. Also family dysfunction a lot of underneath that and we don't know what that is we all have our own. Family dysfunction that we deal with and and crisis that brings us together but then as we were talking about before the show there's a lot of levity to the a lot of news. So that I. EO Mike Danner who plays your mother is yes. It's right away in the beginning of the movie we see that former ability of her getting up in their night down in winter and just walking outside. Not knowing what it. As cut and mean for me. I don't it's so heartbreaking ending any diseases heartbreaking in the weight changes a person and I your life is just irrevocably different. And and how that shapes everyone else who loves you his life as well. But in just the idea of who are you without your memories. We really take our memories for the scariest thing that can hand yeah I'll malls mean for her insulin going through that they have a whole new rule. Perspective on like that but everyone else who's around them is in no. You lose that person the way they were at that time. And so but like like we are also talking about if not done in the melodramatic way and getting the opportunity to work with Bly who. I grew up watching in love and Robert Forster you know these people it's kind of like taking a master class in acting while. This setup is basically you're being brought in as middle. The brother Michael Shannon plays is saying it's time for her to. Go to some place where it can be taken care of right that says she's my girl yeah can't. I got an IL I also the denial that this is happening that may be it reverse and maybe shall. You know that it won't it won't continue to sit Sid Sid would she lose her her memories may maybe one day she's gonna wake up and I and an in. And and be herself again you know or or just holding on to those those little moments and is savoring them you can you feel for him. So all of that I just feel like it's beautifully written the first time writer director and it's her family stories with very personal. And she said she really wrote it because it was hurt. Her way of holding on to her grandmother who had alzheimer's. It was her way of of keeping them year and not letting them go so is she said it was kind of for her a little selfish treats. That kind of human drama. That in this day of basic comic books. Everything that happens yeah we don't see television is where it is yes that's right movement is really can't afford this kind of movie which seems odd because it's not a big budget. This is the smiles legend ever went on this film was done in 22 days. He and it's just the passion unity does he make these movies because you love them and they have something to say and we can all relate to them ands. It's a nice break from their you know that people who were wearing masks and climbing walls and flight flying through the air and there's a place for that Cuba. It's just nice to have a choice it's true. With its pants now. We all have what we gonna do what it what happens when that happens that you brought up your dad who would suit you who what what what. Was his medical problem that my dad a full needed a lung transplant and so. You know they say it's it's one of the hardest surgeries a person can undergo and it's still there's a lot to be learned about it my dad is very much to Guinea pig which the doctors have. Had hats verbally said. And so he's been this works that doesn't this works that doesn't and what what was going to be a year of kind of make it or break it became three years. I'm happy to say he's healthy he's back to life he's independent he's getting around he still lives with with me and now my new husband. And arduous thank you thank you and but taking three years off to care for him. I was so blast that I was had a job that I could take time often. But it also it gave me a new appreciation. For. Being a story teller just because I took time away from it and my heart group ponder for it and and then stepping into this is my first thing back it was very in neared very much what I had experience. It's just the way you said it I did three years off you know. He's giving a career he we're usually the people graduates and you're doing watched via why act well it wasn't it wasn't. A one I wasn't even thinking of the time it just ended up being that span of time and what we thought was going to be a year just kept. Going you know. I'm just kept happening in my dad needed me and I didn't want to be anywhere else but to be helping him. That's a good daughter well I think that's what you deal that's what families do. They should do that's what they think that really you'd think with the because. This whole store your whole story in this business. Does that start with your mom yeah in the car with you wore on and on but which what are your Oscar speech is one of the man that by now all too. And then write it off like that without us there also the it's valuable achievements at a. But the big concept was that you said I just to grow from a trail yeah. And I had a dream to do this yeah. And he seemed to never goaded the negative. On what this trials work to us it's that we need to trailer park your mom teach you in your they've been in a car yeah outlook so. Interesting for the ball I would say yes it for the most part I a and a very optimistic person always look for the frozen any situation but. When I if I went back in time and put myself in the place it was incredible. Mighty moms said he wouldn't if we're really if you really want to be an actor we need to go to Los Angeles she was at a crossroads in her life. We drove to California with 75 dollars we lived out of her car and a lot of people like. But for me that you. It was incredible I was still growing to pursue my door and up my car I mean you know and and also the whole idea of a trailer park and there's a lot of obviously they are around that and I am conversation about and that's. Unfortunately. How I learned about classes a minute very young age. Because you don't know you don't know we have a roof failure and it's why it's needed them but it's geared suddenly tot that that's not. A place that you know. Does it mean day is I don't noble way think of all the things people say about a trip are great. And for me it was my home. Oh. It's just than what you're having fun. I'm just I'm having my life but. It's then you're hot but that's looked at a certain way and then you and that's what start shaping your ideas of things but. It's it is lettuce and I I have parents who believe in me and parents did their best. And I'm living my dream. But I will say it definitely teaches you to persevere because I had so many people. They mean when he and give up your hobby is the pipe dream is never gonna happen with where you grew up in honey money you can mean you can even eat let alone. Go to an audition you know that those types of things over and over and over and over. And when you that I can become your truth or you can to stay and you know. What you believe and say we. No the rule exactly it's critical re yeah did nobody gave the handbook that suggests this is not Al work. Yeah you need these agent you need this thing to happen. And I think that if you love nothing so much nothing's gonna stand in your way you're gonna hit the pavement in new. I mean look there's been there and then there's still aren't there set back solid time but how do you choose to move through that. You know that's near choice because we can't control and eating it happens right like is happening. My dad needs a lung transplant someone gets alzheimer's. Real life happens. But it's how you choose to deal. It is because you could've just said I can't take us via and you withdraw right from what ever elect is handing right. Did you ever have a period have in the beginning of confusion of where to why belong in this world. Yeah I mean. And still I mean I think we always do you know I think we did it just changes that you don't need to belong in it as much. Because you of other things going on in your life and so that's not your entire life. So I think that just makes you feel more settled in a before when you're really you know young and you're still trying to find your your your place. You and you want to belong more and that causes so many problems I think. Two enemies your daily. Here visiting yes and things that I have it right for you you know because someone else thinks it's right I'll do it. Yes you know and following other people's instincts and not your on in an Elvis and your forty nearly out not gonna do and does not feel right from. That didn't quite happen. We're doing a lot but I remember. Seeing you I remember two things I remember Buffy the vampire flick yup my first movie signal light minutes ago yet. Not me. But there's a please in the beginning in that poll Lee Li as so violent it. So many movies that wouldn't it be saying that about yeah that's true but that you're in the next Karate Kid you all are. Mr. behind me is training yuppie yes we view a bowl game will you always physical. Were you always somebody who crude. Yeah IEA I am I grew up an athlete I love sports it's been one and it. I think being in sports has been one of the most important things for me. And also is a woman. Just the idea of being able to understand what your body's capable and in a world that women are often time object fighting trivialize so. The idea of all I I can push myself and my body's made. To work for me in this way and then also work in eighteen environment with other women. Our girls at that time. Who were working towards an end goal together we had the support one another we had to. And be there for one another and I'm learned how to be. Team to team players so that I've carried into my life and being supportive women and and allowing myself to be supported by other women in. Fun. It's it was incredible and know how to push myself how to get out of my own way our mind is our biggest obstacle all that stuff that sports gives what about the bond. Seeing that they could east would come to humans and I remember hearing about you. I'm. Still I think the whole different thing it is it is Akon who in the lead different thing and my I have so much respect because you hear three minutes and you yes I can do anything for three minutes coming back. Then you get in the ring and silence punching you in the spamming yeah trying to catch your breath. And you're constantly moving and you're about to you growing up in passing out with before three minutes is over. Like glamour life a fact. But yes you are I didn't a I'm that was that was quite a time talk about having to get out of my way I got out of bed in the mornings and can't do this. I was too tired and I wouldn't be able to do it I had to just get out of my own way and say I can't many get. One minute it's time I'm gonna do this Ellis to get that movie and so many levels it was a beautiful script I've never ever filmed movie. Where one word wasn't. From the second pirate it to the of the and picture and it was all there. Not one word changed and perfect perfect movie perfect Clint Morgan dream come true and kind of like what you do from here where you go from here when you do. But this happened twice TO. You know in terms of that kind of role he as an actor so glad you get a lot to read what you're talking about it and what they head as being something that's close to you via. But Boys Don't Cry. Is that you know rights and it's eight is a risk to do. Lap well I think. You know making any movie as a risk because you know you're really only as good as your last movie a lot of the time and it be Clarence. And speaking of so apropos said it's so while you always aim for the bullseye but you don't always hit it. And that's just the way it is and so any movie is at risk but I've never looked at something and thought what will people think of me. With by M passing is a boy or. You know I'd just I have for me. It's a blessing because I get to step in someone's shoes and see the world through eyes in a way that. Eyewitness had just been me walking. And so it enriches my life ended it gives me a chance to grow and and blow open my blinders with how it's in the world and it's incredible. It seems now especially with Boys Don't Cry that it's just becomes more and more timely. What happened to him. And how tragic that was and how we still live in a world where that kind Kate kind of happens is I don't I think it's. We get you ready for this next year it'll be twenty years Nadal twenty years since I come with a cracked it was 1999. And we've come you know a long way we have a long way to go there is there is. I love how people are coming together and supporting one another and you know. It's at the time you know gay people didn't even want to be associated with trans people. Their lake keep a separate Ali this is you have your own thing we enact. And now or all I think we're all working together no matter what gender I think it's transcending gender and making it about something bigger which is it is sad and LG BTQ you've had the entire thing that says we're all together in that's right yeah. And even outside in that war altogether it's our responsibility to stand up for everyone's rights across the board no matter what gender no matter what race. You'll hear it. Every thing that seems to be your part of your decision making process to do something seems. Intensely personal. There are things you could read about doing Boys Don't Cry where the story is. She only makes 75 dollars a day yeah something for being. Put look what the movie was. Yeah I mean and no one nil and that this little movie that had such an important message had I known that it would be this. Kind of this. The start of a conversation. In this big way at probably would have been frozen and responsibility. You know but it's just an honor really and there are things that I completely relate to and Brandon Tina. And every character that I play and every single one of those characters it's still my heart and I walk around the world look them. Your whole career seems to me risks you know that you. I think I mean it's possible to typecast. Incompetency you can't. By Brandon again you know hope you really didn't do any more boxing movies. Yeah you keep doing things that are gonna are gonna push human the but what you do. When it's just life and you have it because. I read somewhere that you did some skydiving. Yeah I am I'm I work. Actually think that's what we all. Take pressure off. I hate light to do things that I guess scare me I guess you right. I'm a Leo maybe that's a Leo characteristic. It makes me feel alive. You've also gotten married. I don't think it's why I just a couple of months ago wow not even and I think it's seven weeks or something it's that Corey. I heard this and if it's not true. I'm going to be reassess. What that you and your husband tap dance we did picture went. You know people do ball were home or they learn something for their dance and I. Well I'd Astaire and Ginger Rogers they are still incredible. And let's see that but we do that that your husband will end with. He's a Leo. He's we have yet usually read jumping out and a good idea. And and then we found ourselves planning an attack as I have to say it. I think it's really important for anyone who's getting married to learn added you something together. Like that because it it needs shows you support one another goes back to the team sports thing. You know how long you worked through being frustrated used at the foot again or whatever. I don't. That's not even though we just learned. And no it was so much fun and then it was so fun to see our family and friends reactions to it and I think very action made it who look we're seeing better than we actually wore. FY anyway as we come to a close in this is the first time then sure yes you don't know that we ended song. I didn't do. I heard you don't an annual leave and nobody thinks now but this is acting as a go anywhere SI and as late king man I was like I just how many songs that I like which one should icing. And I wish that I had that that you have a winning song. Yeah actually second thing that one. Can take my I who have been. You allow Canon to attach. Has in this area I want analysts used Selma which. Saying god love has in. And that new team and it it's loud fat and the union bay email. That's this song for someone that jumps out of planes that that the way to do it yeah bury your duty to you like they paint a much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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