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Original Issue

Q+A Hilary Swank

The 30-year-old Academy Award winner stars opposite director Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby

SI: To play a boxer you trained 41/2 hours a day, six days a week for three months and gained 19 pounds of muscle. Would you advise that regimen for couch potatoes?

Swank: I'd recommend them warming up to it. Boxing was physically the hardest thing I've ever done. Ever.

SI: Describe your character's relationship with boxing.

Swank: For Maggie, boxing is her dream. It's a calling, and I also think it's an escape. It's a way out.

SI: How long did it take to get used to hitting and being hit?

Swank: I felt protected because [trainer] Hector Roca would let people hit me only in the body until I got used to moving around. Gradually we got to letting people hit me in the face. Then it was a different game, and it made me better. I got the hang of hitting and being hit, and I enjoyed it. I remember bloodying my first nose. I was like, "Yeah!"

SI: You fight pro boxer Lucia Rijker in one of the film's most important scenes. How intimidating was it?

Swank: She was really supportive, giving me tips and pointers. She would never go all out because she would kill me. If she wanted to remind me that I'm not really a boxer, I'm sure it would have been hell.

SI: You were nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress. How would you feel about your chances if the award were decided in the ring?

Swank: As long as it wasn't against Lucia Rijker, I might be able to hold my own (laughs).

SI: You have an age advantage on Imelda Staunton and better reach than Scarlett Johannson. Uma Thurman may be tough, though.

Swank: That's very interesting. You'd like to see that, wouldn't you? Me and Uma Thurman in the ring. --Richard Deitsch