Tilda Swinton: five best moments

Our pick of the actor’s greatest performances. What others deserve to be on the list?

In the words of the Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins, Tilda Swinton seems to choose her roles “not because she wants to work up to winning an Oscar, nor because she wants to play particular kinds of character, but because she wants to satisfy her curiosity about film-makers she admires – a film enthusiast, if you like, who just happens to be a great actor”.

Swinton has indeed worked with some of the most interesting filmmakers around since Derek Jarman cast her in her first film role in 1986, as Lena in Caravaggio. We asked @guardianfilm followers to nominate her greatest performance to date. Here’s our pick of the suggestions, with thanks to @FilmNothingMore, @leoSouto, @YesitsAlistair, @angrymiddleaged and @kenneth_gray. What other role deserve to be on the list? Let us know in the thread below.


Swinton took the title role in Sally Potter’s 1992 adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel about a gender-shifting Elizabethan nobleman who lives for centuries.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Another literary adaptation; Lynne Ramsey’s interpretation of Lionel Shriver’s Orange prize-winning book stars Swinton as Eva Katchadourian, mother of one of cinema’s most nefarious teens.


Despite her continuing interest in arthouse work, Swinton hasn’t shied away from appearing in more commercial films – such as this 2005 adaptation of the Vertigo comic Hellblazer. Many fans were displeased by Keanu Reeves’ casting in the lead role – in the books the character is a blond Scouser – but Swinton was an ideal choice to play Gabriel, the “androgynous half-breed angel”.

Michael Clayton

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw heaped praise on Swinton’s performance as Karen Chowder, a lawyer “literally poisoned with fear: pale, dyspeptic. At one moment, she is smoothly handling a video conference; at another, she is vomiting in agony in a ladies’ room cubicle; and in another, she is having an electrifyingly tense conference in the street with some sinister guys about a certain difficulty that now needs to be handled in a certain way.”

Moonrise Kingdom

Swinton can currently be seen in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, her second film with the director following her formidable turn as “Social Services” in Moonrise Kingdom.


Adam Boult

The GuardianTramp

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