I’ve always thought Tilda
Swinton was a fascinating woman, but ever since the Oscars, I’ve upgraded her to amazing. While
the fashionistas ripped her makeup-free face and Hefty-bag chic, I though
she was one of the most striking women on the red carpet (OK, fine,
the trash bag was weird, but she still managed to almost pull it off).
That blaze of red hair and those porcelain angles make it nearly impossible
not to stop and stare. And have I mentioned the suits?
Tilda graces the cover of Out magazine’s
April “Transgender Issue.”
While the Oscar-winning actress isn’t trans, she does delightfully
blur the boundaries with her style, attitude and roles. Anyone who saw
her in 1992’s avant garde epic Orlando knows she can gender-bend
with the best of them. Also, sweet fancy Moses, does she ever look good
in a suit.
And what’s great about
Tilda is that the more I read about her, the more amazing she becomes.
Like, what did she want to eat during her Out interview? Mashed
potatoes or “anything I can eat with a teaspoon, basically. I’m
not really up to a fork.” How delightfully weird. But there’s nothing
weird about Tilda’s take on making art.
“I’ve never been
comfortable calling myself an actress or an actor. It sounds pretentious
to say, but it’s actually me trying not to be pretentious.
I just don’t know how to act, particularly. I think of myself more
as an artist’s model than anything.”
That self-analysis may be one
of the best descriptions of her I’ve ever read. Throughout her career,
Tilda has tended to make art, and not necessarily entertainment. Her
films are sometimes difficult to watch, sometimes bordering on awful.
But she has this way of turning herself into a canvas where the character
paints itself with bright, vibrant tones.
While some of the tabloids
recently tittered about her unconventional living arrangements, Tilda
saw no reason to hide her relationships. She lives with her long-time
artist husband, John Byrne, and went to the Oscars and other public
events recently with her younger lover and fellow artist Sandro Kopp.
How did she explain her relationships? “We ostensibly live in the
same house, but I travel the world with another delightful painter.”
Now that’s how you defuse gossip.
In an industry that champions
set gender roles, the fact that as androgynous an actress as Tilda has been able
to work and thrive is pretty amazing in and of itself. She told Out that her inherent
outsider status is one of the reasons she fees so connected to the gay community:
“I think there is
something very specific about a community of people who have by very
virtue of their sexuality had to be self-determining, that early realization,
that early decision, all the feelings of loneliness, all the feelings
of pride -— all of that is my home. There are things that … I take from
my background with great gratitude — things like a love of nature,
the idea of social responsibility, good manners, etc. — but I had to
make a departure very, very early, and maybe that’s the real key to
why I feel very much at home in the gay community.”
Like I said, amazing.