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Hiddleston, Swinton, Jarmusch Talk Vampires in Must-See Romance 'Only Lovers Left Alive' (VIDEOS)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 7, 2014 at 1:44PM

"Only Lovers Left Alive" took seven years to make (at one point Michael Fassbender was attached) and both Swinton and John Hurt stuck with the project, which was finally funded in the U.K., France, Cyprus and Germany at $7 million. "It took a very, very long time," Jarmusch said, "and it’s getting more and more difficult for films that are maybe a little unusual or maybe not predictable or not satisfying people’s expectations of something -- which is the beauty of cinema: discovering new things of all forms."
'Only Lovers Left Alive' at Cannes
'Only Lovers Left Alive' at Cannes

Swinton tried to unravel the allure of vampires: “I suppose because they live these long, long, potentially never-ending lives, and we’re all so terrified of thinking of mortality that we’d rather think about being immortal. I think the idea of invisibility and yet existing visibly is really beautiful and it was always coming. I was never surprised when Jim said to me, ‘Let’s make a vampire film.’ I felt like saying ‘You’ve been making vampire films for years,’ it feels like a very natural state, that invisible, immortal world.”

The always articulate Hiddleston (who tweets beautifully) was attracted to “the idea of a character who embodied a romanticism and melancholy, but still motivated by a curiosity towards the things that he loved. And I feel like he is fascinated by two separate things which are entwined: music and science. He’s enamored by vibrating particles: they might be stringed instruments and they might be stars. And he’s so passionate about these things, and he’s such a brilliant musician and engineer, but in a way he can’t see that. And she is broader and she can hold his fragility. And it was just a beautiful story about two people who loved each other and accepted each other and they happened to be vampires. And the idea of exploring love in a context of immortality, if you are challenged with immortality, is it a blessing? Is it a curse? And what does that do to your commitment?”

Both actors agreed that they were playing characters who were more animal than human. They thought of the vampires as feral wolves. “For some people this is vampire film, for some people it’s a fairy story and for other people, it’s a documentary,” says Swinton. 

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.