‘The Office’: How Hilary Swank Reacted to Characters Debating Her Looks

Hilary Swank was the subject of an episode of one of the most classic TV shows of recent years, however, the episode wasn’t totally flattering. During an episode of The Office, characters debated whether she was attractive or not. Here’s where the idea for the episode came from — and what Swank thought of it.

Michael Scott with a trophy
Steve Carell as Michael Scott | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank

What inspired an episode of ‘The Office’ about Hilary Swank

Firstly a little background. The episode of The Office where characters debate Swank’s looks, “Prince Family Paper,” was written By b. J. Novak, who plays Ryan on the show. He told Indy Week he was on a flight once where the two in-flight movies — P.S. I Love You and The Great Debaters — were Swank movies. “So I figured, why not a debate about Hilary Swank,” Novak said. He decided characters should debate whether Swank is attractive.

The characters on the show are evenly split between the pro- and anti-Swank factions. Some see her as attractive while others make horrible remarks about her appearance. Ultimately, at the end of “Prince Family Paper,” Michael Scott breaks the tie by casually remarking that Swank is hot.

The Office theme

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How she reacted to the episode

During an interview with Time, she was asked “The Office set an entire plot around debating whether you were hot or not. Have you seen that episode?” She replied “I’m not a big television watcher, but definitely everyone made me aware of it. It’s flattering anytime someone mentions you. But I don’t think of myself in terms of that.” Later in the interview, Swank was asked about women in Hollywood and replied “There is so much [emphasis] put on the way we look, which is interesting, going back to the Office question. Are you hot, or are you not? It really does a disservice. There’s so much more to life than looking a certain way.”

Was The Office episode offensive? One could certainly see it that way. On the other hand, the whole argument is portrayed as silly, so one could interpret the episode as saying the characters of the show were acting ridiculous by obsessing over a non-issue.

A Hilary Swank interview

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When someone said Hilary Swank wasn’t ‘pretty’ to her face

Oddly enough, this is not the only time the issue of Swank’s attractiveness came up. According to Entertainment Weekly, Kim Matters interviewed Swank about women in Hollywood. “I’m still young enough that I haven’t been feeling the brunt of that,” Swank revealed. “Certainly, you hear about it … and you do see it, although you also see a lot more roles I think opening up for older women. I mean, Meryl Streep seems to be dominating.”

Matters replied “Oh, but she’s… the exception… She’s not a pretty girl, and you’re not either.” Swank replied saying she doesn’t play people who look like movie stars and she likes it that way. Regardless of what characters Swank plays, she still inspired a classic episode of The Office.