The Tao of Tilda Swinton

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Marilyn Manson and Charity

LHJ: You've taken on such varied projects in your career and I read that you're collaborating with Marilyn Manson on a film. Is that true?

TS: Yeah, we've been talking quite a while about making a film. I think we're still developing it, but I haven't actually heard from him for a while. He keeps going off and making records and then touring the world with them -- and all power to him. I like him very much. He's extremely smart and he has a very interesting project in mind about Charles Dodgson, who is Lewis Carroll, the guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland.

LHJ: How did you connect for this project?

TS: He just contacted me and said he wanted to talk to me. He rang me up at home. It was great.

LHJ: Were you familiar with his work prior to that?

TS: Yeah, I was a huge fan. I've always been a great Manson fan so I was thrilled.

LHJ: Beyond acting, do you have any other passion projects?

TS: I'm in the process of inaugurating a foundation with my colleague Mark Cousins, called Eight and a Half Foundation, for children to have access to great world cinema. We want to set up a Web site with a menu of films we've curated -- films from all over the world -- then a child can go to the Web site, choose the film they want, and we'll send it to them as a birthday present for their eight and a half birthday.

LHJ: Why eight and a half?

TS: In 2006, I was asked to deliver an address at the San Francisco Film Festival called the State of Cinema address. I really didn't know what to talk about and I was on the verge of saying I had nothing to say about the condition of the cinema industry at the moment. Then one night, my son asked me what people's dreams were like before the cinema was invented. He was 8 1/2 at the time and I realized that a child at 8 1/2 has the capacity to really use cinema for what it was invented to be, which is a source for our imagination and our dreamscape. So I wrote this piece as the state of cinema address, which was a letter to him, and it was quite widely published. Mark read it and wrote a public reply to it, to himself at 8 1/2, examining how cinema had saved his life in a way. He was brought up in Northern Ireland in a war-torn place. He was quite frightened and vulnerable and it was going to the cinema that really made him feel safe and secure in the world. So through these two letters we decided to make this foundation.


Julia, starring Tilda Swinton, is available now on DVD.

Originally published on, September 2009.


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