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Hilary Swank is an unusual woman in the world of Hollywood. She won two Academy Awards before she was 30, then starred in a series of unmemorable movies.

In 2014, she disappeared from the movie world to take care of some very important family business. Three years later, she returned to acting.

What has this talented actor been up to, and have her years away affected her bottom line?

From humble beginnings to two Academy Awards 

Hilary Swank on the red carpet
Hilary Swank | Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Swank didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury. She lived in a trailer park in northern Washington in a humble part of town. When she was 15, shortly after her parents divorced, she and her mom moved to California so Swank could pursue her dream of acting.

For two months they lived in their car, scraping by. They would share $1.99 breakfasts and struggle to come up with enough money to buy a slice of pizza at night. 

But the lean times weren’t a bad thing in Swank’s mind. As she said in an interview with The Guardian, “It’s not a negative. It’s a memory you love because it just reminds you of pursuing something that you want. For me, I was moving to California and I was living my dream!”

Perhaps because she knows what it feels like to struggle financially, Swank has a reputation for being careful with her money. She once made waves in Hollywood by talking about the fact that she turned down a movie role because of the pay.

She was offered 5% of what the male star was getting — and this was even after she’d won two Oscars. She not only stood up for herself, but she also started a public conversation about the pay gap between men and women. 

Swank wasn’t well known when she landed a role in an independent film that would change her life. Boys Don’t Cry was based on the true story of a transgender man named Brandon Teena who was raped and murdered in 1993. Swank played the part of Brandon, and it was for that role that she won her first Oscar.

After that, she worked in movies regularly. Just five years later she won another Oscar for her exceptional part in the movie Million Dollar Baby, which she starred in with Clint Eastwood. 

She drops out of sight

In 2014 Swank suddenly stopped making movies. Her father needed to undergo a lung transplant, and Swank decided to give up acting for a while to be his caregiver. Although it was hard to change her life that radically, she speaks about it with typical optimism. She says wasn’t just giving something up,  “I was saying yes to something else that I wanted to be a part of.”

Taking care of her dad not only changed her acting career, but it also changed the way she dated. It helped her clarify what was important in life, and it also eliminated the men who thought she was odd to be living with her dad.

This worked out well for Swank, who married Philip Schneider in a forest ceremony in August 2018. 

Back in business — and in the black?

After three years out of the spotlight, Swank has returned to acting. But after her time away, how are her finances holding up?

Although she spent some time away from acting and she wasn’t always paid what she was worth, Swank has been smart with her money. She’s earned income from various endorsements and she’s developed her own fashion line, called Mission Statements.

When you put it all together Swank’s net worth is $40 million dollars. Not bad at all for someone who grew up with so little.