Hilary Swank "fell off her chair" when Clint Eastwood offered her a role in 'Million Dollar Baby'.

The 36-year-old star - who won an Oscar for her portrayal of struggling boxer Maggie in the 2004 film - revealed she has always been inspired by the legendary director and so it came as a shock when he sought her out to play the part.

She said: "When I heard about the part, I about fell off my chair because Clint has been making movies longer than I've been alive and I've grown up watching his movies and I've been inspired by this man and moved by him.

"He's the first person who ever made me blush. I turned as red as an apple when I first met him and then instantly felt at ease - we started talking like we'd known each other forever. He believes in people."

The actress also admitted that while she didn't get involved with the film industry for the awards and accolades, winning Oscars in 1999 for 'Boys Don't Cry' - in which she portrayed a transgender man - and also 'Million Dollar Baby' rendered her "speechless".

Hilary explained: "I didn't become an actor for those reasons but it's something that leaves you speechless - to be recognised in a field that you've always dreamed of being a part of, to have your peers and critics give you something that is the epitome.

"I don't even know how to explain what it feels like. I don't know if it's ever really sunk in. I look at my Academy Awards and I'm just in awe of the fact that I've had the chance to play such rich, deep, emotional people when there aren't a lot of great roles like that for Women."