'Something' up first in thesp's second act

With “Something Borrowed” heading into theaters this weekend, actress-turned-producer Hilary Swank gets her first taste of waiting for box office numbers to announce a sequel.

But whether or not “Something Blue” gets made, Swank promises that in her second act — as a producer — she’ll supply more films aimed at women, but with a particular focus on realistic characters.

“Borrowed,” which Warner Bros. is distributing, is the first produced project to come out of Swank’s and Molly Smith’s 2S shingle, set up three years ago with a first-look deal at Alcon Entertainment.

Swank has been an exec producer on her recent acting vehicles “Amelia” and “Conviction,” and she produced 2006 indie “Beautiful Ohio.” After logging more than 20 acting credits, including Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” Swank told Variety that she’s been energized by putting on a producer’s hat.

“I was always moved by people’s stories and I wanted to find a way to tell them while continuing to act,” Swank notes. “Molly and I were particularly interested in stories focused on women — but real stories not wrapped up in a nice bow.”

Before setting up 2S, Swank had done a trio of projects — “Insomnia,” “The Affair of the Necklace” and “PS I Love You” — for Alcon, where Smith was an exec. The duo found that they had a shared affection for “Terms of Endearment” in terms of honest portrayals.

“It’s all about the emotional truth of characters for us,” Smith notes.

So Swank decided she would not play a character in the $30 million-plus “Something Borrowed,” which stars Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin.

“When I was reading about Darcy, I didn’t see me — I saw Kate,” Swank said. “And Molly saw Ginnifer as Rachel. It would not have been as honest a portrayal if I had done it.”

“Something Borrowed” took less than three years to make it into theaters since Swank and Smith acquired feature rights to Emily Giffin’s 2005 debut novel along with rights to Giffin’s sequel, “Something Blue.” Both say that Alcon toppers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove gave them pretty much full creative control over the project.

“It’s an extraordinary feeling to get this to this point,” Swank admits.

Reaction was upbeat at Tuesday’s “Borrowed” premiere at the Chinese, and key players — director Luke Greenfield, Hudson, Smith and Swank — all expressed strong interest in “Something Blue,” in which Hudson’s character winds up in London. “Once we see how this does, we’ll decide,” Kosove said.

For her part, Smith says she’s most proud of author Giffin’s reaction to the screening. “She told me that the movie was better than the book, so we’re just hoping that other people feel the same way,” she added.

Aside from partnering with Swank, Smith elevated her credentials by bringing in “The Blind Side” to Alcon. She’s also the daughter of FedEx topper Frederick W. Smith, who’s also Alcon’s owner.

Besides “Something Blue,” 2S has several projects in active development, including film versions of another Giffin novel, “Heart of the Matter,” and the diet and lifestyle book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mirielle Guiliano. They are also adapting the novels “You’re Not You” by Michelle Wildgen with DiNovi Pictures and Karen Yampolsky’s “Falling Out of Fashion.”

Swank says she’s particularly enthused over “You’re Not You,” which revolves around a woman suffering from a terminal illness and an aimless young woman who enters her life as a caregiver.

“We’ve been working on it for over three years,” she notes.

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