Tilda Swinton Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (59)  | Personal Quotes (28)

Overview (4)

Born in London, England, UK
Birth NameKatherine Matilda Swinton
Nickname Swilda
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The iconoclastic gifts of the highly striking and ferociously talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by art house crowds and international audiences alike. After her stunning Oscar-winning turn as a high-powered corporate attorney in the George Clooney starring and critically-lauded legal thriller Michael Clayton (2007), however, her androgynous looks and often bizarre appeal have been embraced by more mainstream crowds as well.

She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton into a patrician Scottish military family on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian, and her father, Major-General Sir John Swinton, an army officer, was English-born. Her ancestry is Scottish, Northern Irish, and English, including a long tapestry of prominent Scottish ancestors. Educated at an English and a Scottish boarding school, Tilda subsequently studied Social and Political Science at Cambridge University and graduated in 1983 with a degree in English Literature.

During her tenure as a student, she performed countless stage productions and proceeded to work for a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company where she appeared in such productions as "Measure for Measure." The rebel insider her, however, was strong and she left the company after a year as her approach and interests began to shift dramatically. With a pungent taste for the unique and seldom tried, Tilda found some gender-bending stage roles come her way. She portrayed Mozart in Pushkin's "Mozart and Salieri", and as a working class woman impersonating her dead husband during World War II, in Manfred Karge's "Man to Man," a role she later committed to film (Screenplay: Man to Man (1992)).

In 1985, the tall, slender performer with alabaster skin and carrot-topped hair began a professional association with gay experimental director Derek Jarman. She continued to live and work with the groundbreaking writer/director/cinematographer for the next nine years, involving herself in seven of his often notorious films. This quirky, highly fascinating alliance would produce such stark and radical turns as the Berlin International Film Festival winners Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1987), The Garden (1990) and Edward II (1991) (playing Isabella, in which she won "Best Actress" at the Venice Film Festival) and Wittgenstein (1993), as well as the films Soursweet (1988) (a movie with no spoken dialogue) and the Stockholm Film Festival Award winner Blue (1993).

Jarman succumbed to complications from AIDS in 1994. His untimely demise left a devastating void in Tilda's life for quite some time. Her most notable performance of her Jarman period, however, came from a non-Jarman film. For the vivid title role in Orlando (1992), her nobleman character lives for 400 years while changing sex from man to woman. The film, which Swinton spent years helping writer/director Sally Potter develop and finance, continues to this day to have a worldwide devoted fan following.

Over the years, Tilda has preferred art to celebrity, opening herself to experimental projects with new and untried directors and mediums, delving into the worlds of installation art and cutting-edge fashion. Consistently off-centered roles in Female Perversions (1996), Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998), Teknolust (2002), Young Adam (2003), Broken Flowers (2005) and Béla Tarr's The Man from London (2007) have added to her mystique. Back in 1995, she delved into a performance art piece in the Serpentine Gallery, London, where she was put on display to the public for a week, asleep (or apparently so), in a glass case.

Following the birth of her twins in 1997, Tilda would leave lean for a time towards Hollywood mainstream filming. The thriller The Deep End (2001), earned her a number of critic's awards and her first Golden Globe nomination. Other visible U.S. pictures included The Beach (2000) with Leonardo DiCaprio, fantasy epic Constantine (2005) with Keanu Reeves, her Oscar-decorated performance in Michael Clayton (2007) and, of course, her iconic White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).

Into the millennium, Tilda continued to amaze starring in the crime drama Julia (2008) and in David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). She learned Italian and Russian for Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love (2009), starred in the psychological thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and Bong Joon Ho's Snowpiercer (2013), and earned fine notice in Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem (2013). She also starred in the dark romantic fantasy drama Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) directed by Jim Jarmusch, had a small role in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), starred in Judd Apatow's comedy Trainwreck (2015), and played a rock star in Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash (2015).

Showing no signs of slowing up, Tilda continues to make creative, visual impressions in such films as the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! (2016) where she reunited with Clooney and had a dual role playing twin journalists, and as the wise Asian teacher of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the Marvel Comics action film Doctor Strange (2016), while repeating the part of The Ancient One in Avengers: Endgame (2019). She gave another eccentric, unhinged performance in the action adventure message movie Okja (2017), played Betsy Trotwood in a contemporary telling of The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) and teamed up again with writer/director Jim Jarmusch in the thoroughly offbeat fantasy horror comedy The Dead Don't Die (2019).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (3)

Children Honor Swinton Byrne
Xavier Swinton Byrne
Parents Swinton (Killen), Judith Balfour
Swinton, John
John Swinton of Kimmerghame
Judith Balfour Killen
Relatives Captain George Sitwell Campbell Swinton (great grandparent)
Elizabeth Ebsworth (great grandparent)
William W Killen (great grandparent)
David Paulsen (cousin)

Trade Mark (2)

Androgynous beauty
Often works with Derek Jarman, Wes Anderson and Luca Guadagnino

Trivia (59)

Lives 16 miles east of Inverness in Nairn, Scotland, with her partner Sandro Kopp (an artist of some note) and her children, Xavier and Honor Swinton Byrne, whose father is Scottish painter and playwright John Byrne.
Mother is Australian.
Has three brothers.
Daughter of Major-General Sir John Swinton of Clan Swinton, whose ancestral home has been within the family since the 9th century.
Functioned as the muse and mascot of Dutch fashion designers Viktor and Rolf (Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren), who made an entire collection inspired by her (2003).
Her family and Clan Swinton is one of the oldest in Scotland.
Does not always play women; she has played Mozart on stage, an Elizabethan nobleman in Orlando (1992) and an androgynous angel, Gabriel, in Constantine (2005).
The father of her children, John Byrne, is a Scottish artist and writer. They were together from around 1989 to 2003.
While at Cambridge University, she appeared in student productions of plays such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Duchess of Malfi" and "The Comedy of Errors".
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 57th Cannes International Film Festival in 2004.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival in 1988.
Attended West Heath Girls' School, with Princess Diana as one of her classmates, and later Fettes College.
Since 2004, she has been in a relationship with Sandro Kopp, a painter from New Zealand.
Lived in Germany when she was a child because her father was posted there.
Spent two years in South Africa and Kenya as a voluntary worker in children's schools, before studying at Cambridge.
On her days off from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), she could be seen on-set, offering encouragement to her young co-stars.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 55th Venice International Film Festival in 1998.
Member of the 'Dramatic' jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003.
Reached great artistic acclaim through her art installation/performance piece "The Maybe", for which she lay sleeping in a glass case on public display for a week, once at the Sepentine Gallery in London and once at the Museo Barracco in Rome. The piece is often erroneously credited to artist Cornelia Parker, whom Swinton invited to collaborate for the installation in London (1995).
Gave birth to twins, a daughter named Honor Swinton Byrne and a son named Xavier Byrne, on October 6, 1997.
Was declared one of the ten best dressed women in the world by Vanity Fair in 2007.
Delivered the seminal State of Cinema Address in 2006 at the San Francisco International Film Festival, discussing the relationship of dreams, inarticulacy and film.
She has Scottish, English and Northern Irish ancestry. She can trace some of her patrilineal ancestry back 35 generations, to the 9th century. Her father, Major-General Sir John Swinton of Clan Swinton, is the former Head of The Queen's Household Division and Lord-Lieutenant of Berwickshire.
In her acceptance speech, she said she would give the Oscar she won for Michael Clayton (2007) to her agent Brian Swardstrom.
In the top ten of the 2008 International Best-Dressed List.
Funded and held her own very successful Film Festival in her small Scottish highland home-town: The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams. A purely cinephile, glamour-free community event. For eight and a half days in August 2008, she personally introduced and showed an eclectic mix of classics and rare films from around the world. The admission price was 3 pounds for adults, 2 pounds for children or a plate of home-baked cakes.
Received a 90-minute tribute at the 2008 AFI (American Film Institute) Festival.
Contributed vocals on four tracks of the album 'The Bachelor' by glam-goth-folk singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf.
Performed live with Patti Smith on four nights of the 2005 London Meltdown Festival reading texts by Susan Sontag, Bertolt Brecht, William Blake and William S. Burroughs.
Head of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival in 2009.
She was heavily pregnant with her twins during filming Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998). She had to be filmed from the waist up.
Her favorite films are School of Rock (2003), Au hasard Balthazar (1966), Brüno (2009), I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), Let the Right One In (2008), and Bag of Rice (1996).
Swinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Daniel Brühl, Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams are the only actors to receive a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Critics' Choice Award nomination for the same performance and then fail to be Oscar-nominated for it: for their performances in We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), The Departed (2006), Rust and Bone (2012), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), Captain Phillips (2013), Rush (2013), Nightcrawler (2014) and Arrival (2016), respectively.
She stated her interest in appearing in a movie directed by Alain Resnais.
Moscow, Russia: Risked arrest waving a rainbow flag in front of the Kremlin in violation of Russia's new homosexual propaganda bill, and posting it widely in social media. [July 2013]
Was the 131st actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Michael Clayton (2007) at The 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008) on February 24, 2008.
Was offered to play Prof. Sybil Trelawney on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), but role went to Emma Thompson.
She was the first non-director to be have a Film Benefit Gala held in her honor at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The event took place on her 53rd birthday, November 5th, 2013 and was hosted by Karl Lagerfeld, Wes Anderson and David Bowie.
Is good friends with Amy Schumer.
Has appeared in three movies with Ralph Fiennes: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), A Bigger Splash (2015) and Hail, Caesar! (2016).
Initially, she didn't want to do A Bigger Splash (2015). Not this movie nor others, due to the recent death of her mother, she ended up changing her mind and at a moment in her own life when she was all out of words, she proposed the idea of this woman unable to speak.
Appeared on the cover of the Autumm/Winter 2015 issue of AnOther Magazine, but not as herself, instead she appeared as her character in A Bigger Splash (2015), Marianne Lane. In a work of fiction co-authored by Swinton, Glenn O'Brien, Luca Guadagnino and David Kajganich, Marianne Lane gave an interview for the magazine based around events in the film.
Learned how to speak Italian and Russian for I Am Love (2009).
Has been directed by Luca Guadagnino in five productions: The Protagonists (1999), Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory (2002), I Am Love (2009), A Bigger Splash (2015) and Suspiria (2018). Together they also created the concept of the short film Here (2012).
Member of the 'Cinéfondation and Short Films' jury at the 55th Cannes International Film Festival in 2002.
She has twice played characters who were males in the original comic book: Gabriel in Constantine (2005) and The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016).
Her paternal great-grandfather was Scottish politician and herald George Swinton of Clan Swinton, and her maternal great-great-grandfather was Scottish botanist John Hutton Balfour of Clan Balfour.
Was the original choice for the role of Dr. Serena Kogan/Skynet in Terminator Salvation (2009), however Helena Bonham Carter was cast instead.
Considers Delphine Seyrig a major influence. She stated her role in the musical video David Bowie: The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (2013) was meant as an homage to the actress' performance in India Song (1975).
She stated that her beauty and fashion icons are her grandmother, David Bowie, her children, Patti Smith and Delphine Seyrig.
Has appeared in three films with George Clooney: Michael Clayton (2007), Burn After Reading (2008) and Hail, Caesar! (2016).
Never planned to be an actress until she saw Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar (1966) in which a donkey's cute performance filled her with acting aspirations.
Counts Welsh actor Roger Livesey as her cinematic crush who also appeared in her all-time favorite film I Know Where I'm Going! (1945).
As of 2019, she has been in 3 films that were Oscar nominated for Best Picture: Michael Clayton (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).
Co-Artistic Director of 'Cinema China', 'The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams' and 'A Pilgrimage' with director, 'Mark Cousins'.
Founder of the 8½ Foundation with director, 'Mark Cousins'.
Tilda Swinton and director 'Mark Cousins' carried a 33.5-tonne portable cinema across the Scotland Highlands to bring cinema around the country. Titled 'Pilgrimage: A Scottish Road Movie Festival', which became one of the central parts of the documentary 'Cinema Is Everywhere (2011)'.
As of 2022, she has had 10 films in the official competition of the Cannes Film Festival, and a total of 15 films screened at the festival.
As of 2019, she has had 4 films in the official competition of the Berlin Film Festival, and a total of 24 films screened at the festival.

Personal Quotes (28)

The other day, I was going through the airport security and I was searched by a male security guard. I'm very often referred to as "Sir" in elevators and such. I think it has to do with being this tall and not wearing much lipstick. I think people just can't imagine I'd be a woman if I look like this.
I'm basically interested in identity, and I still find fascinating the question, "How do we identify ourselves, and how do we settle into other people's expectations for our identity?"
There is something insane about a lack of doubt. Doubt, to me anyway, is what makes you human, and without doubt even the righteous lose their grip not only on reality but also on their humanity.
True, there is all sorts of religious extremism all over the place, but the reason for this partly has to do with the fascist attitudes and language of absolutism coming from Washington. It's challenging for people outside of America that Bush was re-elected. It means we're all going to have to work a lot harder to understand what so many more Americans than we thought really want. It's an identity shift in our minds about America and maybe for many Americans as well.
I don't work the future - I don't want to know what's coming. I don't feel I need any guarantees.
There's such an effort to try and explain people.
I sometimes think I was always left-wing. I know that sounds completely crazy, but I do know that I asked questions when I was about four, and I remember noticing that I wasn't getting an answer, and I remember it annoying me. Like why when we went to church on Sunday were we sitting upstairs and the people we'd been playing with the day before were sitting downstairs. And I noticed that my brothers were not asking these questions. I was aware that I was being embarrassing.
You're always playing yourself. It's all autobiography, whatever you're doing. It's using them as a kind of prism through which to throw something real about yourself, or something relaxed at least. Because the last thing you want is to look like you're acting.
I think I enjoy my work now even more simply because it's even easier than it was. It sounds sacrilegious to say that anything's a delight when you're away from your children, but the truth is that it is refreshing to only have yourself to dress in the morning, and to lie diagonally across the bed. Making films, going round the world on tour
  • all these crazy things that were so difficult before are so much
easier than breastfeeding twins for 14 months that frankly it is a delight.
In order for the story to move forward, the character has to do certain things. You don't have to be anything but interested in telling the story.
I don't love the theatre. I'm just not one of them.
I am a soldier. I live a soldier's life when I'm working. That's how it feels to me, except I've got a slightly greater chance of survival.
[on the Oscar statuette] I have an American agent who is the spitting image of this. Really truly, the same shape head and, it has to be said, the buttocks.
I really just had a reverse Zoolander (2001) moment when I think I heard someone else's name and suddenly slowly heard my own. I'm still recovering from that moment, and I have absolutely no idea what happened after that. So, you know, you can tell me my dress fell off and I'd believe you, so don't be cruel. - on winning the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
[on how she believes Derek Jarman would have reacted to her winning an Oscar] I think he would have laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed... And then, he would ask me for the thing to melt it down into an artwork.
I'm not one of those performers who says the theatre is my great love. It really isn't. I'm not really interested in the theatre at all to be honest. I don't go to it. I find it really boring.
I don't think I'm courageous. One man's courage is another man's comfort zone. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) explored a taboo subject: the idea of a less than perfect mother. I knew that, when an audience watched the film, there would be a gag reflex at some point. But I was fascinated by the subject - it scared me, and that interested me.
When we were trying to finance We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), we would reference Rosemary's Baby (1968). It's every pregnant woman's nightmare to give birth to the devil. And every mother worries that she won't connect with her children. When I had my children, my manager asked me what project I wanted to work on next. I said, "Something Greek, perhaps Medea." Nobody quite understood what I meant, what I was feeling.
It's a real comfort zone for me to feel alien.
[on We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)] I call this the feel-good film of the year, because parents will leave the cinema going, 'There but for the grace of God go I'. And people who don't have children will leave the cinema going, 'There but for the grace of God go I!. So it's a win-win situation, I reckon.
[on Delphine Seyrig] The most important thing to strive for is to never look like an actress. Just always look like a person. And that's exactly what Delphine achieved.
[on meeting Delphine Seyrig] She was so beautiful, but that wasn't the most important thing about her. She knew she was beautiful, and she'd stare at you as if to say, 'alright, have a look,' but then she drew you in much, much deeper.
[asked about some actress performances that inspired her] One's always downloading one's heroes, I suppose, all the time. We're not referencing any particular, current pieces of work. I remember being asked whether I thought about Gena Rowlands for Julia (2008) and thinking 'well, I think about Gena Rowlands all the time!' Not just for Julia. Of course, we thought about [John] Cassavetes a lot for Julia. For this film [I Am Love (2009)] we thought about Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour (1967). I thought about -and again, I always think about- Delphine Seyrig in Last Year at Marienbad. But again, it's not just sampling these performances, but being inspired by them all the time. I could say that I'm just as inspired by Delphine Seyrig when I'm making Julia as when I [am] doing I Am Love. Who else? Let me think...Carole Lombard in To Be or Not to Be (1942). Those are the people that kind of spring to my mind. So does Ingrid Bergman.
[on what cinema means to her as an art form] My guides in this inquiry are my children who are now 16 -- they're twins. They're like lab rats really, they're very grateful. When I first started thinking about cinema for them, I started to really examine my own desires about cinema for myself... It was really to do with the children and seeing their eyes opening. And I started thinking about why cinema is good for the soul, and what it gives us. In a nutshell, what it is for me is this amazingly humane opportunity to put yourselves in the shoes of someone else. It's no more complicated and no less powerful than that. You go in, it all goes dark, and you put yourself in someone else's shoes and see through their eyes. That's just mega, it's so powerful. Even a painter, who can do it, only can do less. A painter at one time is showing you one frame, but a filmmaker can take you into an experience and an existential atmosphere that may be a trip for you. It's like a magic carpet. This is how I feel about cinema.
[on not taking her personal nor her professional life too seriously] I'm playful at heart. And myth-making is always fun.
When people ask about how I approach a character - well, I wouldn't know how to approach a character if I tried. People will ask about choosing a role; I don't choose roles. People will talk to me about preparation. Aside from putting together a disguise, I'm not aware of any preparation at all.
[on not considering herself an actor] I don't know what it would take for me to feel like one. I understand it's a strange thing to say because I do keep saying, 'Yes, I'll dress up and be in your film.' But when I hear proper actors talking about their lives and how they approach their work, I feel like I'm up another tree.
[on her character in A Bigger Splash (2015)] At a moment in my own life when I was all out of words [the death of her mother], I proposed the idea of this woman unable to speak into the established story of ancient histories and new lives thrown into relief by one another. Not only as a twist to ramp up the tensions between the characters, but also as a way of exploring the possibilities of silence in a portrait of a character surrounded by the noise of others and the legacy of the noise she had herself made in the past.

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