Tilda Swinton prioritizes being over acting, presence over character. She is interested in the whole rather than the part and is happiest at the core of a film, embodying its deepest themes with the luminous, naked face for which she is known. In an agile, complex cinematic trajectory from Caravaggio and Michael Clayton to We Need to Talk About Kevin, she gives us unlimited space as viewers to gaze and wonder, to think and be moved. She trusts the image and, in giving herself up to its power, gives us its power.
In private, Tilda, 51, is voluble, wildly funny and affectionate. By inclination a collaborator, she likes nothing better than to be shoulder to shoulder with her companions on the long, perilous haul known as movie development. This greatly endears her to all who work with her. Tilda’s frequent stints on film juries and her knowledge of world cinema past and present give her work a breadth and openness that come from awareness of other stories, other languages, other ways of making movies. We feel the space of history around her when she works, a sense that there is more than this. This conjuring of the quiet magnitude of human experience is what partly explains her magic. She evokes the bigger picture and occupies its center.