Well, at least you’ve got to admire Tilda Swinton’s balls | Lucy Siegle

Her makeover for the film Suspiria was pretty convincing, but there are lessons to be learned from her transformation

The chameleon actor has done it again. It turns out Tilda Swinton does play the elderly male character Dr Josef Klemperer in the remake of supernatural thriller Suspiria after all. This despite the fact that the film-makers had tried to throw everyone off the scent with an IMDb biography entry for a fake actor called Lutz Ebersdorf. In hindsight, this was a bit lame as Ebersdorf had never been cast in anything else, but just happened to land third lead in a major movie. Then there was a supplementary denial by the director, who called the suspicions that Ebersdorf was Swinton “fake news”. As everybody knows, whenever anybody says “fake news”, it is in fact true.

For some reason, despite the fact that I’m not especially observant, I didn’t even need to apply this metric. I saw the picture of Swinton’s face alongside the snaps of the character and I knew instinctively, rationally and with every pore of my being that this was indeed Tilda Swinton.

This might suggest that the makeup artist hadn’t done a good job. Not so. It’s a fine job. Makeup artists are the unsung heroes of culture (everyone always talks through the bit when their Oscar is presented). Swinton’s face was beautifully altered, the lines engraved with precision during four hours of makeup each day.

No stone was left unturned in pursuit of becoming Dr Josef Klemperer. Swinton even wore genitals. Mark Coulier, the lead makeup artist, told the New York Times: “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.” Fancy.

They clearly went to a lot of trouble. But why? Some smart arses have suggested it’s so that Swinton could overcome systematic pay inequality. This suggests if female actors want to boost their salaries, they will have to pretend to be male and take on multiple parts in the same movie.

There’s part of me that believes that habitual disguisers and dressers-up are a bit addicted to it, that they get more out of it than the audience. This is something to bear in mind as we approach Halloween, which has become peak costume season for non-actors. Single-use Halloween costumes, primarily made from plastic-based textiles, generate 12,500 tonnes of extra waste that will be sent to landfill or incinerated. So this year my plea is for restraint. There is simply no need to take it to Swinton levels. We know it’s you anyway.

You really can’t neighsay Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson: horse sense.
Liam Neeson: horse sense. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

At the New York film festival, Liam Neeson recounted how on the set of his latest movie, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a horse recognised him and began pawing the ground and whinnying. At first, I thought Mr Neeson was making a comment about his general level of celebrity and might be under the impression that all horses recognised him (as many humans would, no doubt). But then I saw that he had worked with the horse before.

Animal psychologists confirmed that horses can remember and react fondly to people that they associate with positive memories, especially where they have been given food. Neeson said he had talked to the horse and fed it apples.

I like this story on many levels. I like it when other species are revealed to have more sophisticated cognitive processes than originally believed. Cows can recognise friends in the herd, for example. Plus, in this fast-paced world, it is nice if any freelance colleague remembers you in between jobs, irrespective of species.

But, still, the real experiment is yet to be conducted: if Liam Neeson was disguised as Tilda Swinton, would the horse still recognise him?

Nonso Muojeke case proves the kids are all right

Nonso Muojeke: saved by his classmates.
Nonso Muojeke: saved by his classmates. Photograph: Uplift.ie

I spent my adolescence in the neighbouring county to Tullamore, County Offaly, and can confirm that the Irish market town was not then renowned as a social justice leader. Instead it was known for Tullamore Dew, an Irish whiskey still to be found on sale in earthenware flasks at the airport next to the leprechaun magnets.

But that changed last week when the deportation of a Tullamore schoolboy, Nonso Muojeke, 14, was halted, in part because of a sustained, high-energy campaign calling on the Irish government to grant him leave of remain, conducted by his classmates. After repeated appeals failed, Nonso’s classmates refused to let it lie.

The news clips of their victory have been a thing of joy. There’s Nonso’s obvious relief that he and his mother and brother will no longer be deported to Nigeria, a country he left aged two and where they would be under threat.

Then there are the interviews where his classmates dissolve into tears, barely able to believe what they’ve achieved. “I would like to thank the minister [for justice] for the humane way in which he handled my case. I am very grateful to my friends, my school, the Tullamore community and everyone else who has supported me,” said Nonso generously, further demonstrating why Tullamore is lucky to have him.

Nonso’s teachers pointed out that appealing against the deportation order had provided “incredible lessons for students”, deftly signalling that all key competences as laid out by the curriculum have been covered.

But curriculum-linked or not, it seems the emergent generation doesn’t just gripe about unjust immigration – it is actively inclined to do something about it. Tullamore’s protest mirrors that of Elin Ersson, the Swedish student who refused to allow the deportation of an Afghan man recently on a Turkish Airlines flight.

• Lucy Siegle is a journalist who writes about ethical living


Lucy Siegle

The GuardianTramp

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