Few actors are as surprising on screen as Tilda Swinton — an actress whose roles have defied age (The Grand Budapest Hotel), gender (Orlando, Dr. Strange), or just what we would otherwise expect from a traditional actor or actress (Snowpiercer). In a conversation with Yahoo! about her new film A Bigger Splash, Swinton reveals her thoughts on identity and, even more surprising, that she isn’t actually interested in acting.
Swinton’s various transformations for her roles are a reflection of her personal beliefs about identity. She explains, “I simply do not buy that identity isn’t fluid. I’m not sure that identity exists. For a long time, I noticed that the stories I was drawn to making were the stories of people who were caught in a concept of ‘OK, that’s me’ and they came up against a wall and had to transform.”
In fact, it’s the transformations that Swinton enjoys most about acting — not the actual process of being an actress. She admits, “I’m never really that interested in acting, to be honest with you. I can quite understand it must sound crazy, given that I’ve been doing this for 30 years. What I need is this feeling of not knowing what I’m doing. Genuinely this feeling of beginner’s mind, constantly. But anyway it’s working. It’s keeping me interested.”
She continues, “I’m just sort of unfolding things. Just constantly unfolding things with no pressure. I’m not exactly professional. In a way I have no plans. And I like that. I’m a kind of wanderer.”
Ultimately, Swinton sees the roles she is offered as a “series of choices,” and it’s up to her — or anybody else faced with choices — to know which ones to take advantage of. She reflects, “Life is just a series of choices, and the gamut’s pretty wide. People can make all the choices they can see in 360 vision. Constantly these opportunities are there for us. We just have to know to take advantage of it. That’s what I feel about identity. That’s the thing that keeps me falling into the habit of performing.”