Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Peirce and Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, an American trans man played in the film by Hilary Swank, who is beaten, raped and murdered by his male acquaintances after they discover he is transgender. The film also stars Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, and Alicia Goranson. After reading about Teena's murder while in college, Peirce researched the case and worked on the screenplay for almost five years. Peirce was inspired by All She Wanted, a 1996 book about the killing written by Aphrodite Jones; however, she chose to focus the story of the film on the relationship between Brandon and his girlfriend Lana Tisdel. Many actors sought the lead role during a three-year casting process before Swank — then an unknown actor — was cast. Swank was chosen because her personality seemed similar to Teena's. Sevigny initially auditioned for the role of Brandon, but Peirce could not picture her playing a man, so she was ultimately cast as Teena's girlfriend Lana. Most of the film's characters were based on real-life people; others were composites.