Tilda Swinton on What Gets Her Interested in Taking a Role, and What Feels to Her Like a Political Contribution Making Films

It took me almost a year to watch Tilda Swinton’s conversation at SXSW, and it took me 24h to watch it twice. This is probably one of the most inspiring and fascinating talk I’ve had the chance to listen to since I’ve started this site.

Swinton is a film lover at heart, and an active seeker for meaningful experiences and collaboration. In over thirty years, she has built a body of work that impresses by its singularity, cohesiveness and ambitious.

Listening to her in this conversation with (who did an excellent job), is a powerful way to ignite or re-ignite the sparkle Cinema and Art lit in all of us. Tilda Swinton is not one who acts to build a resume, but one who acts to offer a window on a person and a place that exist but we might not know about.

There will be more highlights from this conversation on the site, but this article is dedicated to how Swinton gets interested in taking a role, and how she feels she contributes in some sort of way by doing so.


Tilda Swinton on What Gets Her Interested in Taking a Role, and What Feels to Her Like a Political Contribution Making Films

“If there’s a point to which I’m prepared to take myself seriously as a performer, it’s the point which I’ve noticed that I really have interest of acting out stories of people who are on a kind of precipice in their life.

They make some kind of transformation.

Whether it’s the transformation between being a boy to a woman, or between being a loyal and dumbed wife and mother to a really rich man, to being the lover and refugee of a great house, or being a carefree alcoholic to being someone who really cares about somebody else, whatever it is I’ve always loved [this transformation]…

Whenever I talk with a filmmaker about a story, because it’s usually that, rather than reading a script, because I’m normally talking around a kitchen table about a story; the point in which the performer in me gets interested is the point in which they say “And then there’s this precipice; then, there’s this moment when this person” — and I don’t use the word character because I’m slightly sort of suspicious of the word character, but “when this person falters.” That their trajectory, when they go “Yeah, I’m this person” — I’m this persona, switches, and they have to chose another way of being in the world.

I really love that.

And I think that’s political. I think that that in itself, to just make that gesture in the world, to just put out these stories that it is possible to change, that it is sometimes not only possible but let’s face it, it is inevitable that we change, [is political].

And one of the thing that moves me about Society is the way in which it is constantly suggesting that we decide what we are, who we are, how we are going to dress, who we are going to marry, what jobs we are going to have, and that’s going to be it, a signed and sealed deal, and we are never going to change.

And it just seems to be such a bad idea, because it doesn’t work, we all know that the day comes when people go “Oh, that bit has just fallen off, that doesn’t work anymore, and that bit’s fallen off…” and people’s shell come off and they just start to emerge. That feels to me like life.

So to keep putting that out there, through these different stories, feels to me political, and I’m really honored to do that.”

If this has given you as many chills as it did to me, listen to the full conversation with Tilda Swinton and have a blast: