Who is Katherine Mathilda Swinton ? The entertainment and acting world knows her as Tilda Swinton. Swinton is a British actress known for both arthouse and mainstream films. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Michael Clayton.
Early lifeSwinton was born 5 November 1960 in London, England. Her father, Major-General Sir John Swinton, KCVO, OBE, DL, who was Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire (1989–2000), is Scottish, and her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian. The Swinton family is an ancient Anglo-Scots family that can trace its lineage to the High Middle Ages.
Swinton attended two independent schools, the West Heath Girls' School (the same class as Diana, Princess of Wales), and also Fettes College for a brief period. In 1983, she graduated from New Hall (now known as Murray Edwards College) at Cambridge with a degree in Social and Political Sciences. While at Cambridge she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. She has two Honorary Doctorates: one from Napier University in Edinburgh, received in August 2006 and one from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow, received July 2006. She was a contributing editor to the literary magazine Zembla.
Arthouse workSwinton worked with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, starring in Mann ist Mann by Manfred Karge, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, before embarking on a career in film in the mid-1980s. She appeared as Julia in the 1986 television mini-series Zastrozzi: A Romance based on the Gothic novel by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her early film work included several film roles for director Derek Jarman, notably War Requiem (1989) playing a nurse opposite Sir Laurence Olivier as an old soldier. In 1991, Swinton won the Volpi Cup Best Actress award for her role in the postmodern film Edward II. Swinton also played the title role in Orlando, Sally Potter's film version of the novel by Virginia Woolf.
In 1995, with producer and friend Joanna Scanlan, Swinton developed a performance/installation live art piece in the Serpentine Gallery, London, where she was on display to the public for a week, asleep or apparently so, in a glass case, as a piece of performance art. The piece is sometimes credited to Cornelia Parker, whom Swinton invited to collaborate for the installation in London. The following year, the performance, entitled The Maybe, was repeated at the Museo Barracco in Rome. She also appeared in the music video for Orbital's "The Box". She has collaborated with the fashion designers Viktor & Rolf. She was the focus of their 'One Woman Show' 2003, in which they made all the models look like copies of Swinton, and she read a poem (of her own) that included the line, "There is only one you. Only one".
Mainstream filmsRecent years have seen Swinton move towards more mainstream projects, including the leading role in the American film The Deep End (2001), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She appeared as a supporting character in films such as The Beach (2000), featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Vanilla Sky (2001) with Tom Cruise and, as the archangel Gabriel in Constantine (2005) with Keanu Reeves. Swinton has also appeared in the British films The Statement (2003) and Young Adam (2003), and sat on the jury of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2005, Swinton performed as the White Witch Jadis, in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and as Audrey Cobb in the Mike Mills film adaptation of the novel Thumbsucker. Swinton later had cameos in Narnia's sequels,The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
In 2007, Swinton's performance as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton earned her 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 Awards, the film's sole win. Swinton next appeared in the 2008 Coen Brothers film, Burn After Reading. Swinton said of the film, in which she plays opposite George Clooney, "I don’t know if it will make anybody else laugh, but it really made us laugh while making it." She was cast for the role of Elizabeth Abbott in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, alongside Burn After Reading co-star Brad Pitt. She had a starring role as the irresponsible eponymous character in Erick Zonca's Julia, which premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival and later saw a limited U.S. release in May 2009. Several critics praised her performance and some claimed it should have won her an Academy Award.
She stars in the new film adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin due for release in September 2011.
Other projectsIn 1988, she was a member of the jury at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival.
In August 2006, she opened the new Screen Academy Scotland production centre in Edinburgh.
In July 2008, she founded the film festival Ballerina Ballroom Cinema Of Dreams. The event took place in a ballroom in Nairn in the Scottish Highlands in August.
Swinton has collaborated with artist Patrick Wolf on his 2009 album The Bachelor, contributing four spoken word pieces.
Swinton appeared at the 2009 81st Academy Awards helping to present the 2009 Best Supporting Actress Awards.
In 2009, Swinton and Mark Cousins embarked on a project where they would mount a 33.5-tonne portable cinema on a large truck, hauling it manually through the Scottish Highlands, creating a travelling independent film festival. The festival was repeated again in 2011.