The Tao of Tilda Swinton
Playing a Difficult Character
LHJ: Were you able to sympathize with Julia? Was that necessary for you to play her?
TS: I think it's perfectly possible to play a really quite monstrous individual. But with Julia, I felt completely compassionate towards her. I think she's so obviously wrong-footed all the time, that however outrageous she is, however hell-bent she is, I think she's someone I find it very easy to feel compassion for.
LHJ: How does having children of your own affect playing a woman who is so out of touch with how to relate to a child?
TS: Well, it makes it very easy to work with an 8-year-old boy [Aidan Gould]. I knew how much he wanted to get thrown in the trunk, and what a kick he gets out of being bound up with tape. He loved it, like any self-professing 8-year-old boy would. I think maybe if one didn't have a child, they might not realize the great thing about children is that they know that all performing is, is dressing up and playing. It's nothing else. And in fact, they know it better, and more profoundly than a lot of older people do. So it's a grace to work with someone at that age.
LHJ: Do you think that the heaviness of the film was lost on him?
TS: I actually don't believe it was. You'd have to ask him, but he's a very, very bright person and on a very serious level, he seemed to understand what the film was about. There are scenes later on in the film where his responses were absolutely natural and unscripted and he had a protective instinct with Julia. It felt very true to the character that he was playing that this slightly freakish child, who doesn't really know what a mother is, with this extremely freakish woman who doesn't really know what a child is, should end up in this strange, equal pairing, but where in a way he's more adult than she is. I think that says a lot to Aiden's intelligence and sensitivity.