Tilda Swinton's GQ Interview Is Just as Bananas As You'd Hope


Gentleman’s Quarterly has named Tilda Swinton its woman of the year, an inarguable choice. But because Swinton is an “unconventional” person, she commanded an “unconventional” magazine profile. Let’s just say it’s the first time in probably 20 years I’ve enjoyed reading about what a celebrity is eating during the interview, because it is haggis, and because she is forcing writer Zach Baron to have it with her.

First things first: the story, entitled “Tilda Swinton is in a World of Her Own,” is so bananas that its near-denouement culminates in Tilda Swinton sending Baron the following email:

please send me a message in a bottle or tied to a pigeon or even to the neck of my white hen, speckled jim, who disappears every night and i think must live nearer your windows tonight than ours..
sleep very well
ps creeping hydrangea (brain like wet cake)

Baron responded, and received this autoreply: “”Hello, I am away until 01/01/2070 and am unable to read your message.” She then sent him a photograph of Jim, aforementioned white hen.

How it got to that point, in brief: Swinton is bored discussing her movies; Swinton drives Baron around the Scottish countryside, to Loch Ness; Swinton scolds Baron for taking copious photographs of his girlfriend and then showing them to her, even when they are “unflattering”: “”You mustn’t show her the photographs! They’re for you, when you’re away!”

The story ends up being as much about Baron as it does Swinton, apparently because Swinton makes it that way. As a result, it’s as close to spending a weird two days with her as any of us will ever get, because it’s all so vivid, and batshit. The obligatory amount of discussing her acting career is included, a world in which she’s always said she feels strange inhabiting, but more importantly we learn awesome factoids about her personal life. For instance:

I was a professional gambler. When I lived in London, there were a couple of years when I didn’t really earn money doing anything else. I mean, I did other things, like I made work, and I was working with Derek Jarman at the time, but the way I made money was putting money on horses.”


Her 89-year-old father, she’s saying, has only one leg. Major-General Sir John Swinton, the latest in a long and decorated line of soldiers, a hero of World War II, from which he emerged short one limb. Another ancestor, Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton, was a famous scientist: “There are some very zealous admirers of my great-great-uncle who want him to be instated as the true inventor of the cathode-ray tube for television.” These are the two Swinton family traditions, she says, sighing: the television and the tank.

It’s a weird romp full of gems like that; for a gauge on exactly how weird the romp got, at one point Baron believes that Swinton is telling him he needs to take a nap in her car, before he realizes she is talking to her dogs. Hey man, if Tilda says to nap, you nap. Read it in full at GQ.

Image via Craig McDean/GQ

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