All About Dominique Swain

Dominique Swain is an actress from California who rocketed to fame with her ground-breaking role in the 1997 film adaptation of Lolita, based on the book by Vladimir Nabokov. In her younger days, she became an iconic figure due to that single role; however, most of the later films that Swain went on to star in did not garner as much attention as they were smaller independent productions. She continues to act in numerous films today with much praise from film critics and is still often remembered best as the girl who played Lolita.


Dominique Ariane Swain was born on August 12, 1980 in Malibu, California. She made quite an entrance into the world and was born in her father’s. Despite living in an area surrounded by Hollywood’s elite, Swain’s close-knit family led an average American lifestyle. Swain excelled at her studies, a star athlete on her school’s track team and was also a lifeguard. According to a newly passed law at the time, students with too many absences from class would fail by default; because of this, Swain was not allowed to graduate high school at the same time as her peers and it would be many years before she returned to school again.

Swain has four siblings, two of whom are also involved in the film industry. Her younger sister, Chelse Swain is an actress and has appeared in films such as The Virgin Suicides and Georgia Rule. Her other sister, Alexis Swain, works as a film makeup artist.

Personal Life

Dominique Swain is usually fairly discreet about her private life. When she was first breaking out into the film industry, she did have a wild streak for around a year, but quickly realized the dangers of such a lifestyle and gave it up. She stopped drinking entirely and threw herself into her work, creating a clean and diligent lifestyle. In a few interviews, she has revealed that she deeply regrets having to quit high school in order to focus on her film career, stating that it was always an enormous embarrassment. Around 2004, she made the decision to finish her high school credits and qualify to study medicine. A life-long goal of hers is to practice as a pediatrician. In interviews she has mentioned that she never intended acting to be her only career and that she aspires to higher goals.

Swain is also an animal-lover, shown by her affiliation with PETA. In 2001, she voluntarily posed completely nude in a PETA advertising campaign against the use of fur in fashion. Incidentally, she was also the youngest person to do so. This shoot alone garnered her much publicity and she was invited to appear on several talk shows to discuss her association with PETA and what drove her to agree to be shot nude at an age when most of her peers would be quite self-conscious. Despite her support of PETA, Swain is not a vegetarian and is quite open about enjoying meat. Swain has a dog of her own, which was previously an abandoned stray. In her spare time, she enjoys a variety of sports including running, swimming, soccer and softball. She also cites sculpture as a hobby she has excelled in since her younger days as well as creative writing. In 2004, Swain had been romantically linked to a boyfriend of French origin who graduated from Yale University. It is currently unconfirmed whether they have continued their relationship or if she has any plans for marriage. Today she lives in Santa Monica, California.

Film Career

While in school, Swain first managed to get a foot in the door of the film industry in 1993 by appearing as a stunt double for Quinn Culkin (sister of Macaulay Culkin) in The Good Son. Notably, she also auditioned to play the part of Claudia in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, but lost out to a young Kirsten Dunst. By 1997, Swain successfully landed the part of Dolores Haze in Lolita, which was incidentally also her first lead role. At a mere fourteen years of age, she managed to convincingly pull off such an incredible performance for a relatively unheard of actress that it won her a Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Leading Young Actress and a YoungStar Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Made for TV Film at the Young Artist Awards, as well as a nomination for Best Kiss at the MTV Movie Awards. The success of Swain’s role in Lolita quickly earned her a part in Face/Off, starring opposite John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, as the daughter of Travolta’s character. For several years, Swain openly cited Adrian Lyne, director of Lolita, as an invaluable mentor and advisor who helped guide her through the uncertain pathways of the film industry.

Over the next several years, many of Swain’s roles involved her cast in a seductive or racy light, in movies such as The Smokers, Tart, Dead in the Water and New Best Friend.  Around the same time, she also received several offers for parts that involved partial or full nudity. Swain declined the racy roles and instead continued building her career by starring in numerous independent films, churning out at least a few performances each year. Her reasoning for this is that she wanted directors to cast her based on her audition and the strength of her performance rather than on the value of her looks. Several of her roles thereafter were in horror, gore and thriller movies including Plain Dirty, Devour, Dead Mary and Fall Down Dead. These parts earned her the label of “screen queen” in independent film circles, and since then she has actively tried to shake it off. In interviews Swain has explained that since she has moved away from her rebellious teen days and is now more settled in her life, she would prefer to take on roles that offer a wider array of character choices and situations. Challenge is something that Swain thrives on and she relishes the opportunity to play seemingly tame characters that may have a host of issues under the surface. 

During her career, and in addition to her previous awards for Lolita, Swain also won Best Actress for 2007’s The Pacific and Eddy and additional nominations for her performances in Tart, Face/Off and Lolita in various other awards ceremonies. In terms of upcoming projects, she currently has a supporting role in the film The Girl from the Naked Eye (2011), as well as the lead role in The Critic (2011).

Other Appearances & Recognition

In between working on films, Dominique Swain has also appeared in a number of music videos as an actress, showing her love for different and challenging projects. Among these music videos are Shawn Mullins’ Lullaby, Nickelback’s Rockstar, Rapid Hope Loss by Dashboard Confessional, We Are All Made of Stars by Moby, Goodbye by Ism and Losing Control by Sky Patrol. Apart from music video appearances, Swain also enjoyed a couple of guest roles in the television shows Ghost Whisperer and JAG. She has received a good deal of press coverage and is regularly interviewed and photographed at film launches and other celebrity events. In 2002, she was ranked among Stuff Magazine’s top sexiest women worldwide. She has been featured as a cover model for Esquire (1997), FHM (2000) and Stuff (2007). Swain has also appeared in print advertisements for GAP Clothing and also some for Ray-Ban Sunglasses with actor William McNamara.