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“There’s such an effort to try and explain people.” Once said Katherine Matilda “Tilda” Swinton of Kimmerghame, better known as Tilda Swinton. And what is more difficult to try and explain such a unique, independent and complicated person as she is?

Tilda Swinton is one of the most famous actresses in the world, for her own style and for her ability to be transversally independent and commercial, working at the same time for the biggest Hollywood companies but also realizing artworks or artistic performance.

tilda swinton carvaggio spotlightShe was born the 5th of November of 1960 in London and after having attended three independent schools she graduated from New Hall (now known as Murray Edwards College) at the University of Cambridge with a degree in Social and Political Sciences. While at Cambridge, she joined the Communist Party and it was here that Swinton moved the first steps on the stage. She took part of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984,  and after few appearances on the tv, she played in 1986 in her first movie, Caravaggio, directed by Derek Jarman. The movie premiered at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival where it won the silver bear, and it is considered one of the biggest successes of the British independent director. After their first collaboration, Tilda and Jarman continued to work together on many of his projects, creating a mystic and solid collaboration with the visionary director.

edward 11 spotlight tildaShe was the protagonist of The Last of England in 1986, a poetic movie, rather than realistic, about what Jarman felt was the loss of traditional English culture in the 1980s. After The Last of England, she played in War requiem, a 1989 film adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s musical piece of the same name. The movie had a limited distribution, and it was released in 1990 in VHS.The role that really established her as an independent movie star and one of the faces of the British Independent cinema movement was Queen Isabella in Edward II, the next Jarman’s movie. The film’s postmodern style is expressed through the use of both contemporary and medieval props, sets and clothing. For this interpretation Tilda Swinton, won the Coppa Volpi at the Venice Film Festival of 1991.

Another role Swinton played was in Orlando, a Sally Porter film. Thanks to her previous  roles, she could explore matters of gender presentation onscreen in this film which reflected her lifelong interest in androgynous style, one of her most peculiar characteristics. In 1993 she gave her voice to some poems read in the last Jarman’s movie Blue, a strongly avant-guarde and metaphorical testament to the dying director. At the end of the ‘90s, she moved slowly towards the commercial side of the cinema, acting in many Hollywood’s films and playing many different roles.

MCDDEEN FE007In 2001 she had the leading role in the American film The Deep End, in which she plays the mother of a boy, who has suspects that he has killed his boyfriend. For this movie she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Then she had also a supporting role in the films The Beach (2000), with Leonardo DiCaprio, Vanilla Sky (2001) featuring Tom Cruise and in Constantine (2005), where she plays the archangel Gabriele. In the mean time she also played some roles in the British movies The Statement (2003) and Young Adam (2003).

In 2005, Swinton played also in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and as Audrey Cobb in the film adaptation of the novel Thumbsucker. Tilda had also two short parts in the next two episodes of the Chronicles of Narnia, always playing the White Witch Jadis.

Tilda Swinton had a crucial role also as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton, winning both a BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actress as well as the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2008 80th Academy Award. In 2008 she played also in the Coen Brothers film, Burn After Reading and after it she was chosen to be Elizabeth Abbott in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Tilda played as the protagonist in Julia, which premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival, and later saw a limited U.S. release in May 2009.

tilda swinton vampire swintonThe last performances of the actress has been really different and interesting at the same time, acting in 2013 in the last movie of the famous independent director Jim Jarmusch Only Lovers Left Alive, and playing in two different movies of the American director Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. She has also worked with many new directors with different styles and from different countries, like the Italian Luca Guadagnino or the South-Koren Bong Joon-ho.

She is also performing artist, like the art piece “Maybe” exposed in the Serpentine gallery and more recently at the MoMa in New York (where she was on display to the public for a week, asleep or apparently so, in a glass case). She is also active in the fashion sector, considering that she has collaborated with the fashion designers Viktor & Rolf, she is considered one of the most elegant woman over 50s. Apart from all her projects and abilities, at ÉCU we have been captured by her curiosity and willingness to experiment, playing against the master narrative and creating every time, in every field, something of a strictly personal and passionate expression of life. Tilda Swinton is one of those rare spontaneous people that always their limits and continuously pushes the boundaries. What could be more interesting that that?

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