Nine of the best Tilda Swinton Roles

What a time to be a Tilda Swinton fan: in the next couple of months, our favourite 'rock star of the arthouse' is coming back with not one but two films in the span of a few weeks. 

First up is A Bigger Splash by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, now playing in cinemas. Tilda plays Marianne Lane, a rockstar holidaying in Southern Italy while she recovers from vocal chord surgery. 

On 4th March we will see her in the star-studded cast of Hail, Caesar!, the Coen Brothers' latest masterpiece. She will sport a fabulous selection of hats as she doubles up playing twins Thora and Thessaly Thacker (double dose of Tilda!)


To prepare for Tilda's Swinton return, we had a look at her filmography and chose nine of her performances we especially loved - because let's face it, we loved all of them - in her career. Whether you missed some of her best turns or you just want to see her face again and again, here is our list, in no particular order. 



Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)

Vampire Tilda has to be one of our favourite Tildas. Her life-loving, book-obsessed Eve is as charming as she is scary, and she has a tremendous sense of style. Watch Only Lovers Left Alive now.

We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

Swinton's ability to express grief in a hundred different ways got We Need to Talk About Kevin a spot on the list. Swinton herself described this film as "the play Euripides didn't have the balls to write". She is both terrifying and terrifically vulnerable as Eva Khatchadourian, a travel writer who struggles to love her vicious son, until he commits an unforgivable atrocity. 

The Beach (Danny Boyle, 2000)

For something completely different. In Leo DiCaprio-led The Beach, Tilda Swinton plays charismatic leader Sal, who protects the secret island at the centre of the movie. While this might not be the best film Tilda Swinton has been in, we love how ambiguous and fascinating she is in it.

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

In 1992, Tilda Swinton brought to life Virginia Woolf's character, an Elizabethan young man who, after having promised to do so to Queen Elizabeth I herself, lives and explores art and poetry for centuries. This is until Orlando physically turns into a woman overnight. 

Swinton breaks the fourth wall several times in the course of the film, speaking directly to the camera; director Sally Potter explained that "Orlando's words and looks to the camera [were] intended as an equivalent both of Virginia Woolf's direct addresses to her readers and to try to convert Virginia Woolf's literary wit into cinematic humor"

I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, 2009)

A Bigger Splash is just the latest of Tilda Swinton's collaborations with director Luca Guadagnino. In I Am Love, Swinton is Emma Recchi, the Russian wife of a rich Italian industrialist. She speaks Italian and Russian and gives one of her best performances as a privileged woman whose life slowly unravels as she discovers passion.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2011)

It might be thanks to make-up, but this is one of Tilda Swinton's greatest physical transformations for a role - that of decrepit and loaded Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis, aka Madame D. Her lover Monsieur Gustave H. was played by none other than (Curzon Cinemas HQ heart-throb) Ralph Fiennes, who is also starring in both A Bigger Splash and Hail, Caesar!

Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)

A few dozen people have been saved from a new Ice Age; they are all on board of a train that never stops. Tilda Swinton gets her most bone-chilling role yet as Deputy-Minister Mason, who rules over the passengers with cruelty and occasionally kidnaps the poorest people's children. Does this make us wish that Tilda acted in more sci-fi films? Yes, it does.


Caravaggio (Derek Jarman, 1986)

This was Tilda's first screen role, but also the first of her many collaborations with multi-talented, openly political, sexually explicit, brave artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman. She plays Lena, one of Caravaggio's lovers in a scandalous love triangle - the other being Ranuccio, played by Sean Bean. 

Of Jarman, Swinton said: “He wasn’t chasing the centre, he wrapped the centre around him”. Tilda is considered by many to have been Jarman's muse, appearing in many of his films including Thatcher-bashing short The Last of England, experimental Elizabethan feature Edward II and his visionary swan song Blue.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

Sorry, too busy crying to comment on this one.