Biography: Tilda Swinton


Tilda Swinton started making films with the English director Derek Jarman in 1985; their first was Caravaggio. They made seven more films together, including The Last of England, The Garden,War Requiem, Edward II (for which she was named Best Actress at the Venice International Film Festival), and Wittgenstein, before Mr. Jarman’s death in 1994.

Ms. Swinton gained wider international recognition in 1992 with her portrayal of Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf under the direction of Sally Potter. She established rewarding ongoing filmmaking relationships with Lynn Hershman-Leeson, teaming on Conceiving Ada, Teknolust (playing four roles), and Strange Culture; with John Maybury, on Man 2 Man and Love is the Devil; with Jim Jarmusch, on Broken Flowers and The Limits of Control, both also for Focus Features; with Luca Guadagnino, on The Protagonists, The Love Factory, and the widely acclaimed I Am Love, which she also produced.

Her other films include Susan Streitfeld’s Female Perversions; Robert Lepage’s Possible Worlds;  Danny Boyle’s The Beach; Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky; Spike Jonze’s Adaptation; David Mackenzie’s Young Adam; two films costarring with Keanu Reeves, Mike MillsThumbsucker and Francis Lawrence’s Constantine; Béla Tarr’s The Man from London; the three blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia tales, directed by Andrew Adamson (the first two installments) and Michael Apted; Erick Zonca’s Julia, for which she won the Evening Standard Award, and was a César Award nominee for Best Actress; Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn After Reading, also for Focus Features, for which she was a BAFTA Award nominee; and David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for which she won a London Critics’ Circle Film Award.

Ms. Swinton won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for her performance in Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton; she also received Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations for her portrayal. Ms. Swinton had earlier been a Golden Globe Award nominee for David Siegel and Scott McGehee’s The Deep End, which also brought her an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She was recently once more a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for her performance in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, which she executive produced. Other accolades for the latter performance include nominations from BAFTA, the London Critics’ Circle, and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, as well as a National Board of Review win.

In 1995, she conceived and performed her acclaimed live-art piece The Maybe – in which she presents herself lying asleep in a glass case for eight hours a day over seven days – at The Serpentine Gallery in collaboration with an installation she devised with Cornelia Parker. 22,000 people saw The Maybe there, making it the most popular exhibition of its time. The following year, in collaboration with the French artists Pierre et Gilles – and for comparable numbers of visitors – she performed the piece at the Museo Baracco in Rome.

In the summer of 2008, Ms. Swinton launched the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams film festival in her hometown of Nairn, Scotland. In 2009, the festival not only curated a Scottish Cinema of Dreams edition in Beijing, but returned in August as a mobile cinema that travelled –and was bodily pulled – from Kinlochlevan on the west coast of Scotland to Nairn on the east coast. All three festivals became events of international interest.

In 2010, she and Mark Cousins inaugurated their 8 and a Half Foundation, which seeks to establish a new birthday for children – the 8 and a halfth – for the celebration of a magical introduction to the wide company of cinema fandom.

Ms. Swinton has been honored to be the longtime muse and collaborator of Viktor & Rolf. In 2003, she worked with them on their One Woman Show, wherein the designers created a collection on her and made up all the models to look like her. Her latest contribution to fashion was a collaborative film with Ryan McGinley for Pringle of Scotland – for which she remains the face of both women’s and men’s wear – that received industry acclaim.

This biography/filmography of Tilda Swinton is courtesy of Focus Features and the film, Moonrise Kingdom

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