Hilary Swank Was Once Hospitalized After A Scary On-Set Accident

Hilary Swank is no stranger to pushing her body to its limit for her roles. After all, Swank became an A-lister in 1999 after portraying a transgender man in "Boys Don't Cry," for which she won her first Academy Award and Golden Globe. While the decision to cast a cisgender woman for the role was and remains problematic, Swank wanted to do justice to Brandon Teena — who served as the inspiration for the film.

For Swank, it was important that she understood the physical challenges a trans man has to go through. "For four weeks, I lived as a boy," she told Charlie Rose [6m05s] in a 2000 interview. During that time, Swank went about her days as she normally would, but in character. "That just entailed ... strapping my breasts, packing a sock, dressing in my husband's clothes. I had cut my hair off," she explained. That may have been the first time she put her body through that sort of transformation, but it wasn't the last.

In 2004, Swank embarked on an arduous journey to embody a boxer in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby." Then in 2007, Swank's body again felt the toll acting can have on the body while starring in "P.S. I Love You," a film about a husband who arranges for his wife to receive a series of letters from him following his death. The set of a romantic drama wasn't one she considered prime territory for a serious injury. But that is what happened. 

Gerard Butler injured Hilary Swank with suspenders

While filming the Richard LaGravenese tear-jerker, Gerard Butler inflicted an injury on Hilary Swank that sent his co-star to the hospital. The accident happened during a sweet scene in which he danced in boxers and suspenders, as seen above, while Swank's character laughed in bed. "At one point, the clip [of the suspenders], which was a crocodile clip, got stuck in the television as I'm crawling towards her and she's right in front of me," Butler explained on "The Drew Barrymore Show" in January.

The suspender snapped free and went out of control. "It releases, flies over my head, hits her in the head, slashes her head," he detailed. Swank had to be rushed off the set. Butler stayed behind with nothing but his sexy outfit and his own guilt to keep him company. "I'm just sitting there in my Irish boxer shorts and my boots and a pair of socks, and I just started crying," he described. Butler hoped for the best but prepared for the worst — kind of. "I almost killed her," he told Barrymore laughing.

Swank needed some stitches, but ultimately recovered just fine. Swank held no grudge and, in fact, judged it to have been no big deal in a 2012 joint interview for Moviefone's "Unscripted." Butler's apology was even inspired by the movie. "You wrote me a couple [letters] while we filmed from that minor accident we had on set," she told him, adding: "You're a good letter writer."

Hilary Swank could've died while preparing for 'Million Dollar Baby'

To film "Million Dollar Baby," Hilary Swank underwent a radical transformation. She went above and beyond producers' expectations to ensure she was ready to take on the role. "The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle. I gained 19 pounds of muscle. I started at 110 and went to 129," she told MovieWeb in 2005. That required waking up in the middle of the night to drink a shake. "I couldn't go that long without eating," she explained. In her breaks from consuming protein in any shape or form, Swank could be found in the gym.

"My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week," she said. But her dedication had an unanticipated consequence. One blister she had on her foot from working out so strenuously became infected with staph after she popped it. "I went to the doctor's that second and he looked at me and he said, 'This is really serious. And if you would have waited two more hours, you would have been in the hospital for three weeks,'" she told CBS's "60 Minutes in 2005.

And it could've been fatal. "If it gets to your heart, that's it," she recalled the doctor saying. Swank hid the condition from Clint Eastwood and kept on working. "In the end, that's what happens to boxers," she explained.