Tilda Swinton is a brainy actress who swings easily from passion indie projects (The Deep End, Julia and the upcoming I Am Love) to studio fare, from arch-villains to objects of desire, and from mother in the Scottish highlands to glamourous globe-trotting movie star. She won an Oscar as George Clooney's nemesis in Michael Clayton, made love to Clooney in Burn After Reading and Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and keeps turning up in Narnia as ice queen Jadis. (After her cameo in The Limits of Control, she's committed to star in Jim Jarmusch's next, whatever that turns out to be.) She's as beautiful without makeup as she is with it. The next passion project she is developing is in collaboration with this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul. They've known each other for years. (UPDATE: He talks about her at Cannes.)
In our three-part flip-cam interview, Swinton talks about her long-in-the-works Italian film I Am Love (a trailer is below), which opens limited this Friday. (Erica Abeel writes a rave.) She's extraordinary as an Italian aristocrat who thinks she knows who she is but falls off a cliff when she falls in love with a young friend of her son. Sensual and erotic, the film is an art house hit in England and Spain (less so in Italy). Next up: the July 23 reissue of Swinton's breakout role as the androgynous lead in Sally Potter's movie of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which I first saw at the Sundance Film Festival in 1992. (The film earned two Oscar nominations, for Sandy Powell's costumes and best art direction by Ben Van Os and Jan Roelfs.)
Also fascinating to many of us is Swinton's love life, which is less exotic than it appears: John Byrne, the father of her children, is not her husband and remains married, technically, to a Catholic. Swinton and Byrne broke up six years ago, after fifteen years together, and stayed friendly and for a time under the same roof for the sake of their twins; he now lives in a house nearby. While her boyfriend, painter Sandro Kopp, has occasionally stayed with her in Nairn, for the most part they travel together, and she spends time with her kids when she's in Scotland. Every three weeks she's home or the kids come to see her, is the rule.
When she's not acting or producing or mothering, she has long enjoyed film festivals and performance art and has combined them playfully (in league with film historian Mark Cousins) in a series of events, from the 2008 and 2009 Cinema of Dreams to the upcoming Edinburgh Film Festival's Flash Mob. As you can see from this interview, Swinton is both serious and great fun.
Part One--I Am Love
Part Two: Orlando Reissue and Passion Projects
Part Three: Film Festivals
TRAILER: I Am Love: