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Tilda Swinton Biography

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Tilda Swinton
Tilda Swinton
London, England

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Tilda Swinton Biography

The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and enigmatic actress Tilda Swinton, who was born on November 5th, 1960, in London, have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. Born into a patrician Scottish military family, she was educated in an English boarding school that also housed then-known Princess Diana. Tilda subsequently studied at Cambridge University, and graduated in 1983 with a degree in Social and Political Science. She switched to theater, however, and became a student of the Royal Shakespeare Company. A decided rebel when it came to the arts, she left abruptly after a year as her approach shifted dramatically. With a taste for the unique and bizarre, she found some genuinely interesting gender-bending roles come her way, such as the composer Mozart in Pushkin's "Mozart and Salieri", and as a working class woman impersonating her dead husband during World War II, in Karges' Man to Man (1992). Tilda would commit the latter role to film in 1991. In 1985 the pale-skinned, carrot-topped actress began a professional association with director/mentor Derek Jarman. This quirky alliance would produce such stark turns in Caravaggio (1986), Aria (1987), The Last of England (1988), The Garden (1990) Edward II (1991), and Wittgenstein (1993), while feeding this voracity for playing the unique and unusual. Tilda provided a voice in his final film, an inventive documentary entitled Blue (1993/I), which used only a blue screen and interweaving vocal soundtrack to drive home its themes of dying and death. Jarman succumbed to complications from AIDS shortly after its completion. His untimely demise left a devastating void in Tilda's life for quite some time. Ironically, her most notable film role may come from a non-Jarman film. For the title role in the Sally Potter-directed stunner Orlando (1992), her nobleman character actually lives for 400 years while changing sex from man to woman. Over the years she has preferred to sacrifice celebrity for art, opening herself to experimental projects with new and untried directors and mediums. Consistently off-centered roles in Female Perversions (1996), Conceiving Ada (1997), Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998), and Possible Worlds (2000) have only added to her mystique. Hollywood too has picked up on this notoriety, but not nearly as well. With the exception of the thriller The Deep End (2001), which earned her a number of critic's awards, such mainstream U.S. pictures as The Beach (2000/I) with Leonardo DiCaprio, Vanilla Sky (2001) starring Tom Cruise and the Keanu Reeves horror epic Constantine (2005) have tended to undermine her seemingly boundless abilities.

Tilda Swinton Trivia

Appeared in the music video for Orbital's "The Box" (circa 1997)

Lives an hour north of Inverness in Scotland, with John Byrne and their 2 children, Xavier and Honor.

Mother is Australian.

Has three brothers.

Daughter of Major-General Sir John Swinton, whose ancestral home has been within the family since the 9th century.

Went to school with Princess Diana.

Functions as the muse and mascot of Dutch haute-couture fashion designers Viktor and Rolf.

Her family is one of the oldest in Scotland.

Has played two male characters, an Elizabethan nobleman in Orlando (1992) and the angel Gabriel in Constantine (2005). Actually, the Angel Gabriel was not male in Constantine (2005). Gabriel is androgynous.

Her partner, John Byrne, is an artist. They have two children.

Her most well known videoart installation/performance piece is "The Maybe", in which she slept in a glass case for 8 hours a day at the Serpentine gallery in London. She also appeared in Orbital's music video for "The Box", shown on MTV and other music video channels.

She dabbled in classic stage productions such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Duchess of Malfi" and "The Comedy of Errors" before entertaining her passion for the decidedly weird.

Won the Venice Film Festival award for Edward II (1991).

Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004

Graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in social and political science/English literature (1983)

Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival 1988

She went to West Heath, a girls' boarding school.

Her father was a major-general and former head of the Queen's Household Division.

Lived in Germany when she was a child because her father was posted there.

Read Social and Political Science at Cambridge.

Children are twins Xavier and Honor.

Spent two years in South Africa and Kenya as a voluntary worker in children's schools.

On her days off from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), she could be seen on-set, offering encouragement to her young co-stars.

Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1998.

Was member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003.

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