— Hilary Swank isn’t known for doffing her duds on the big screen. But her revelation that she goes nude in real life — in front of her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son — has sparked such a controversy that it threatens to upstage her bid for a third Oscar: a new biopic about legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
Yet Swank seems nonchalant about the ruckus, telling TODAY’s Meredith Vieira she believes being open about this choice in her personal life may open lines of communication in families.
“I think it’s great that people can talk about things that bring up debate,” Swank told Vieira on TODAY Friday. “I think every family is different, and you have to know what’s right for you and your family.”
The 35-year-old actress says the Great Nude Debate came up innocently enough. In an interview with Joanna Coles for the November issue of Marie Claire, Swank was asked what she wears to sleep. Swank said, “I don’t sleep in anything.”
“It was actually part of a longer conversation,” the actress explained. “I said ‘I sleep in the nude, what do you sleep in?’ And [Coles] said, ‘Well, I sleep in a nightgown now because I have two young boys, and at one point, one of my kids saw me nude and was like, eww, so I knew it was time to sleep in a nightgown.’ So we had a long conversation about at what age you stop doing that.”
For Swank, that day has not yet come. Divorced from actor Chad Lowe, the actress is currently involved with her agent, John Campisi. She said that Campisi’s young son Sam typically sees her naked when he comes into the bedroom in the morning.
“He doesn’t look twice,” Swank told Marie Claire. “He doesn’t think about it yet.”
But others do. Web sites lit up about Swank’s naked candor, and many were critical. On the L.A. Times site, for example, blogger Elizabeth Snead wrote: “We can see a tell-all book about being forced to see his daddy’s girlfriend nude every morning in about 30 years.”
Swank told Marie Claire that it’s because she’s a restless sleeper. “I just toss and turn too much when I sleep, and if I’m in clothes, I get all twisted up.”
Oscar No. 3?
The actress isn’t letting her nude controversy stand in the way of promoting “Amelia,” in which she plays the first woman to ever fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart has inspired countless conspiracy theories since she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, went missing on an around-the-world flight in July 1937. Neither Earhart’s plane nor her or Noonan’s body has ever been found.
Swank is already being touted as a front-runner to place a third best actress Oscar on her mantel, which makes her blush. “It’s just crazy to hear that word,” she told Vieira. “It’s incredible that I have two. It’s an honor, but it’s not what you work for.”
Swank is known for disappearing into her characters, from playing a young woman-as-a-young-man in “Boys Don’t Cry” to buffing her body to portray a boxer in “Million Dollar Baby.” She told Vieira she went just as all-out to portray Earhart, even obtaining a pilot’s license.
“I think there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with playing somebody as famous as Amelia,” Swank said. “There are all these images that we have of her, so it’s not like you can make it fictional. You have to play true to who she really was.”
Come awards season, it would be forgivable if actress Annette Bening peers over Swank’s shoulder. Bening was nominated for best actress Oscars in 1999 and 2004, losing out to Swank both times. Now Bening is being touted for another Oscar this year for “Mother and Child.”
“It’s funny timing, isn’t it?” Swank commented. “I love Annette and it would be an honor to be nominated with Annette if that were to be the case.”
Swank smiled when a picture of her embracing Bening at the Oscars was shown. “Is that a knife in her hand?” Vieira joked.