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Hilary Swank & Mira Nair Talk 'Amelia'

October 23rd, 2009 11:41am EDT | Eric Stromsvold By: Eric Stromsvold
AmeliaLast Friday the Essex County Airport in New Jersey hosted an event for Mira Nair's new film, 'Amelia.' It was here that the 73 year old Lockheed Electra airplane used during the filming of 'Amelia' sat glistening in a bright new hanger like a ghost out on a beach. The Electra was stunning to see up close and truly makes one realize just how strong willed (and a little nutty) one must have been to attempt to fly such a craft around the world much the way Amelia Earhart tried in 1937. Think about it; when these planes were built there were no commercial forms of airplane travel, no computers, no radar, and no strong means of constant communication while up in the air.

You flew by way of maps, simple math, by looking up at the stars and a whole lot of hope and faith in all of the instruments around you. Given all of this, it shouldn't have been a surprise that Earhart never made it home and that her Electra has never been located. Amelia Earhart was one of the more progressive people of her time and had in her day a celebrity status that would probably rival that of the Beatles or the Backstreet Boys or Lady Gaga; so her mystery truly lies deep.

Earhart's story is legendary and this is what director Mira Nair had to say about the film and the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of Earhart, "Truth is much stranger than fiction and often much more powerful. We have the records of the last transmissions. Nothing could be more dramatic or heartbreaking than that. Besides the fact that we know there is a mystery. There is no evidence of what happened.

I very systematically, with a lot of help from my crew, really staged very, very carefully and truthfully the actual transmissions. And then, my work is also to create some sense of poetic power. I imagined what it would be like as…as you see your fate in front of you."

>Hilary Swank and director Mira Nair

Hilary Swank and director Mira Nair © Curtis / Fox Searchlight Pictures

When asked about the responsibilty and what she did to help prepare herself to 'be Amelia' Hilary Swank had this to say, "It's a big responsibility to play someone who is iconic as Amelia. We all have a great idea of who she was and what she looked like; so there wasn't a lot of room for fictional license. We had to just do the best we could to do honor to that person. Under Mira's guidance and keen eye -- she's an incredible visionary -- I think we just tried to navigate the best we could; and that is hopefully on screen.

I learned about Amelia from a very young age; but what I learned is what you learn in textbooks. For me, obviously, getting under the skin of a person that I'm playing is really important. We're all specific human beings. We know what our favorite color is. We know what we love. We know what we don't like; and trying to figure that out about a person that you're portraying is very important.

I think Amelia was a very private person. What she was expressing out in the world might not necessarily have been what her true thoughts were. So, just breaking down how her childhood formed who she was. I think one of the things that I took away from Amelia [is] that I found [her] very inspiring and moving."

Swank went on further to say, "A lot of the people have come up to me and said, "I cannot wait to see 'Amelia.'"

It's something I kind of expected from women to really wanna see this movie, but a lot of men are also coming up to me saying, "I can't wait to see this movie." People are, in my opinion, kind of, magnetized to is the idea this person, Amelia, who lived her life the way she wanted to live it. She made no apologies for saying, "This is my life. And this is how I see it. And this is how I want it to be done.

And I think that in 2009, that's really rare; especially for women. I think it's a more male-centric world. And I think that a lot of males are able to have the life that they envision for themselves; but women not as much, even in 2009. So, when we're talking about somebody who lived in the '20s, when women just got the right to vote it's incredible.

Watch "Amelia Lily on love: 'I am very happy'"




It's obviously, a period piece. Yet, it even transcends what we even know now. And I think that's certainly a reminder for me to live my life -- you only have one life and it's so short. Amelia's was certainly short and she accomplished a lot in her lifetime; more than most people really do, I think, in a really long life.

It was just a reminder, that you have to constantly look within and continue to live the life that you know you wanna live for yourself and not for other people. And I think Amelia was just such a great reminder that you can live your life the way you want it and find love and experience your dreams. You can have it all. So, to me, that's what I really learned in diving deep into who she was. Like I said, you only live once. You might as well be doing what you love."

Eric Stromsvold
Story by Eric Stromsvold

Starpulse contributing writer