Tilda Swinton
Birth Date:
November 5, 1960
Birth Place:
London, England, UK
Famous for:
Her role in 'Vanilla Sky'
Cambridge University (majored in Social and Political Science/English Literature; graduated in 1983)
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The Deep End


”I didn't know the filmmakers, but they sent me a script and it was so well-written; it read like a film I wanted to see. This is the film that I've been complaining about not being able to see - a woman thinking her way through a crisis for 90 minutes.” Tilda Swinton on The Deep End

Tall, delicately beautiful, red-haired British actress Tilda Swinton is well known for her versatility and radiant screen presence. Coming to prominence as the muse of the late English filmmaker Derek Jarman, Swinton gained worldwide fame and appreciation as the title character in Sally Potter’s Orlando (1993). Her bravura performance garnered Swinton a Venice Film Festival Award and a Seattle International Film Festival Award. In a more recent film, Swinton made a name for herself with her outstanding performance as Margaret Hall, the mother of a gay son, in the critically acclaimed drama The Deep End (2001), for which she nabbed a Boston Society of Film Critics Award and a Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, as well as earned a Golden Globe nomination.

Swinton’s early film work included her eight collaborations with celebrated director Derek Jarman: Caravaggio (1985), Aria (1987), The Last of England (1988), War Requiem (1989), The Garden (1990), Edward II (1991, won a Venice Film Festival Award), Wittgenstein (1993) and Blue (1993) and several films with John Maybury like Man to Man (1992) and Remembrance of Things Fast (1994). She also starred in the controversial Female Perversions (1996), Conceiving Ada (1997) and The War Zone (1999). Her more recent screen credits include The Beach (2000, with Leonardo DiCaprio), the mystery Possible Worlds (2000, opposite Sean McCann and Tom McCamus), Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001, alongside Tom Cruise), Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002, starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep), Young Adam (2003, with Ewan McGregor) and director Norman Jewison’s thriller The Statement (2003, alongside Michael Caine).

Fans recently could watch her performance in Constantine (2005, with Keanu Reeves), the independent movie Broken Flowers (2005) and Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). She will also play various roles for the forthcoming drama Stephanie Daley (2006), The Man from London (2005), Nico (2006) and Michael Clayton (2006).

Off screen, 5’11” Swinton became a member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival (1998) and the Cannes Film Festival (2004). As for her private life, Swinton is the wife of John Byrne and the mother of two sons, Honor Byrne and Xavier Byrne.

Sandra Kim

Childhood and Family:

London, England native Katherine Matilda Swinton, who would later be famous as Tilda Swinton, was born on Novemver 5, 1960, to Major-General Sir John Swinton (Scottish) and an Australia-born mother. Tilda Swinton, who sometimes is credited as Sandra Kim, studied at the same school as the Princess of Wales, Diana (deceased), and briefly attended Fettes College. She next transferred to Cambridge University, where she graduated with a degree in Social and Political Science and English Literature in 1983. During her college years, Tilda worked in school productions and toured around the country. After completing her studies, Tilda subsequently joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and later performed with the Travers Theater in Edinburgh, before developing a career in film in the mid 1980s.

Out of the spotlight, Swinton has been happily married to artist/actor John Byrne, with whom she shares two children, Honor Byrne and Xavier Byrne. She currently resides near Inverness, Scotland, with husband and their two kids.



Before entering the cinematic industry, Tilda Swinton worked with a number of stage performances. While at Cambridge, she performed in the Cambridge Mummers production of “The Duchess of Malfi” and toured Europe with their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She also appeared in “The Comedy of Errors” in London. Upon graduation, Swinton went on to pursue an onstage career by working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Some of her stage works have included Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri,” “The Tourist Guide” and Manfred Karges’ “Man to Man.”

1986 was Swinton’s breakaway year. She was seen for the first time on film when British director Derek Jarman cast Swinton as a prostitute, who alters herself into a lady, in his Italian painter’s biopic Caravaggio (1986). This initial collaboration was followed by others like Aria (1987) and The Last of England (1988). In 1987, Swenton also played an alien robot shipwrecked on earth in Peter Wollen’s directorial debut Friendship's Death (1987).

In the early 1990s, Swinton rejoined Jarman for his drama film The Garden, which was released in 1990, but it was Jarman’s Edward II (1991) that made audiences take notice of the new performer. Delivering a bright turn as the chilly, repressed Queen Isabella, Swinton nabbed a Venice Film Festival for Best Actress. She next teamed up with filmmaker John Maybury to recreate her stage role for the 1992’s film version of Man to Man.

“I do look at it again these days and I am proud of it. Not least because I realize it really was quite groundbreaking at the time and I realize also what an influence and impact it had.” Tilda Swinton on Orlando

Swinton’s major break eventually arrived in 1992 with the starring role of the eponymous, hero-turned-heroine of Sally Potter’s lavish and daring adaptation of Virginia Wolf’s novel, Orlando. Her outstanding acting not only gained international art house fame, but it also won the actress some awards, including a Venice Film Festival and a Seattle International Film Festival in the categories of Best Actress.

After the success, Swinton worked again with Jarman. She was featured as Lady Ottoline Morrell in the director’s drama Wittgenstein (1993) before making a final collaboration in Blue (1993). She then rejoined Maybury for Remembrance of Things Fast (1994).

Disappearing from the screen for a while, Swinton became infamous for a brief period in 1995 when she devised a series of living art exhibitions titled The Maybe, in which the performer lays motionless in a glass box for eight hours a day. Her London performance in the sleeplike lounge lasted a total of 56 hours at the Serpentine Gallery, was viewed by 22,000 people, and became a national phenomenon. She repeated the performance at a gallery in Rome the following year.

Returning to film in the year of 1996, Swinton gave an impressive performance as Eve Stephens, an attorney who suffers a crisis at the height of her professional career, in the controversial Female Perversions (1996, starring with Amy Madigan). In Conceiving Ada (1997), she was seen as a pregnant woman named Ada Byron, and as Muriel Belcher in Maybury’s Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998). Progressively moving into more mainstream fare, Swinton offered a courageous performance as the mother in a family destroyed by incest in Tim Roth’s directorial debut The War Zone (1999) and had a costarring role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach (2000). Also in 2000, she starred with Tom McCamus and Sean McCann in the John Mighton-scripted mystery Possible Worlds.

Swinton once again attracted public attention when she was cast as Margaret Hall, a mother who goes to any length to protect her gay son, in the drama The Deep End (2001). Screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the film met positive reviews by many critics. As for Swinton, her brilliant performance netted a Las Vegas Film Critics Society and a Boston Society of Film Critics for Best Actress. Additionally, she earned a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes.

Still working on mainstream projects, Swinton found herself acting with superstar Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001), but she stepped back to the indie circuit in the following year with the Sci-Fi film Teknolust. The British actress had a small, but remarkable performance, as Hollywood development executive Valerie Thomas in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002), starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. Her fine acting in the Charlie Kaufman’s big screen version of Susan Orlean’s book of the same name, received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. In 2003, she costarred as married woman Ella Gault, who is drawn to a mysterious vagrant (Ewan McGregor), in the controversial NC-17 rated, Scottish Beat murder mystery Young Adam, and played the lead of Annemarie Livi, opposite Michael Caine, in director Norman Jewison’s unremarkable thriller The Statement (2003).

The year 2005 saw roles in the independent film Thumbsucker (2005, opposite Keanu Reeves, Vincent D’Onofrio and Vince Vaughn), the comic book-derived horror-action hybrid Constantine (2005, starring Keanu Reeves), in which she was cast as the morally-complex angel Gabriel, Jim Jarmusch’s indie Broken Flowers (2005), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), for director Andrew Adamson. Swinton also has four more movies in production. She will soon play roles in the writer/director Hilary Brougher’s drama Stephanie Daley (2006) and Bela Tarr’s The Man from London (2005). Swinton is also set to star as the title character in the British production of Nico (2006) and will join George Clooney and Sydney Pollack for Tony Gilroy’s drama/thriller Michael Clayton (2006).


  • Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award, Best Actress, The Deep End, 2002
  • Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, The Deep End, 2001
  • Bremen Film: 2001
  • Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actress, Orlando, 1993
  • Venice Film Festival: Best Actress, Orlando, 1992
  • Venice Film Festival: Best Actress, Edward II, 1991
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Teddy - Jury Prize, 1988
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