Hilary Swank has won 57 awards for her acting — more than half of what she’s been nominated for. The small-town girl didn’t just happen upon her accomplishments, though. She worked hard for them. For Million Dollar Baby, she gained 19 pounds of muscle — and the way she did it is beyond impressive.
Hilary Swank Found Parallels Between Maggie Fitzgerald and Who She Is in Real Life
For the Clint Eastwood movie, which ended up winning four Oscars that year, the Boys Don’t Cry actress only had about three months to get into shape for her character. Maggie Fitzgerald is an amateur boxer who wants to make it big. So, she works with her trainer (Clint Eastwood), putting her all into the sport until she achieves her dream.
That storyline perfectly parallels Swank’s process with Million Dollar Baby. In an interview with Movie Web, she explained how she’d always looked up to Clint Eastwood and how that feeling flowed through her acting. To start, once she got Maggie’s Ozarks accent down, she really fell into character. Swank said she’d also grown up in a trailer park although it was in the Midwest (she really came from humble beginnings!).
I was this young girl who had a dream, and I was determined and driven and focused and I’m so happy living my dream. I feel so blessed to be able to live my dream and I had that connection with Maggie. Because Maggie has a line in the movie where she says this is the only thing, I ever felt good doing, and that’s how I feel. So, I had that connection with her and for me, working with Clint is a dream come true and for Maggie, that relationship that she has with [his character] Frankie Dunn is so similar to my relationship with Clint. It was just a really neat parallel and I didn’t want to let Maggie go. Every day that this movie was one day gone, I was sad. And Clint of course works so quickly, and your days are so short, and we finished two days early. I kept joking at the end I was going to come to work not knowing my lines and come a little late just so that we could stay on longer.Hilary Swank via Movie Web
The Million Dollar Baby Diet Included Gag-Worthy 60 Egg Whites a Day
That determination and drive certainly carried into all that Swank did. She was asked to put on 10 pounds of muscle mass for her role as Maggie Fitzgerald. In order to do this in 3 months, she needed to eat 210 grams of protein a day. But here’s the kicker: your body can only absorb so much protein in a sitting. Swank, therefore, needed to consume protein at 90-minute intervals.
Hilary Swank told The Hollywood Reporter that she needed to consume 60 egg whites a day!
“I don’t know if you guys are aware of intake of protein,” Swank said of her Million Dollar Baby diet. “I had to eat 60 egg whites in a day, and I couldn’t. So, every morning I would drink them. I had to eat every hour and a half. So, in the night, I had to wake up and drink protein shakes.”
“The Worst Thing Ever”
Swank told Movie Web that consuming that many egg whites were “the worst thing ever.”
“I could never eat 8 to 12 egg whites in a sitting. It’s just the worst thing ever. I had to drink flax oil. Flax is a really important oil for your brain and to also just keep everything moving when you’re eating that much protein. It’s a really important fat. Like one tablespoon of Flax oil has like 15 grams of fat in it.”
She’s also said that she could only eat 50 grams of carbohydrates a day, which adds up quickly. According to the Diet Doctor, 50 grams of carbs can be found in 3 pieces of bread, a cup of rice or pasta, 3 potatoes, or a heaping salad. That doesn’t leave much room for imagination and certainly omits any possibility of a nice piece of chocolate cake.
Apart from needing to swallow a bunch of unfertilized chicken babies every 90 minutes, Swank also needed to sleep for 9 hours a day! This meant that she had to wake up in the middle of the night over and over again, like a breastfeeding mother, to swallow her egg white protein shakes.
“The thing was, I needed nine hours of sleep a night because your muscles have to be able to rest in order to build or you actually reverse yourself,” Swank told Movie Web. “So, I slept nine hours a night, but I had to wake up in the night and drink protein shakes because I couldn’t go that long without eating.”
Swank’s Exercise Regimen Was Grueling, Too
But we haven’t even gotten to the exercise regimen yet. Swank says that she’s already athletically inclined, but she actually had no clue how to box when she started preparing for the role. She ended up training for 2.5 hours a day boxing and 1.5 to 2 hours a day lifting weights, 6 days a week.
Swank told Movie Web that she underestimated how difficult boxing truly was, saying “It was something that totally eluded me.” She thought that 3 minutes in the ring would be easy peasy but she was quickly proven wrong.
“Boxing is the most intense workout you can ever experience,” she said, adding that it made her feel sick at first.
In my second round, I was halfway through three minutes, and I about threw up, the first time I sparred. There is no way you can explain it. My face was as red as that red. The cardio, you don’t stop moving, you don’t stop punching and you’re getting hit. The only way I can explain it is if you were to take a jump rope and go as fast as you could for three minutes while someone’s punching you in the stomach. That’s the only way I can probably explain it.Hilary Swank via Movie Web
Hard Work Pays Off: Million Dollar Baby Made Over $200 Million
Essentially, she became an egg white drinking, boxing machine, who dedicated all day every day (save for Sunday or whatever her rest day was), for 3 months straight. Not to mention learning a new accent and all her lines and movements. That’s insanely impressive. She ended up putting on 19 pounds of muscle mass, going up from 110 pounds to 129 pounds.
Million Dollar Baby ended up winning Hilary Swank the Best Actress in a Leading Role, Morgan Freeman Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Clint Eastwood for Best Director, and Clint Eastwood and Producers for Best Picture. And that was just at the Oscars. Hilary Swank herself won 19 more awards for the film and the film received twenty awards over the years, on top of more nominations. It also made $216.8 million at the box office.
The moral of the story? Hard work pays off.
Oh, and Swank says she no longer drinks egg whites or protein shakes. She’s good on all that. Although, she is about to have twins, so maybe her Million Dollar Baby diet will come in handy again?