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Why You Haven't Heard From Tilda Swinton In A While

Tilda Swinton is in a league of her own. From her wide-ranging roles in films like The Chronicles of Narnia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Snowpiercer, and Suspiria to her unique and impeccable sense of style, she has an artistic flair that no one can replicate. Her creative instincts set her apart, and she defies comparison to any other actor.

Perhaps it seems like Swinton has been absent from the big screen lately — and in a sense, she has. It's been a while since she's appeared in a major blockbuster film. But that doesn't mean she hasn't been steadily working. Swinton has not gone on hiatus at all — in fact, she's worked on several interesting projects over the past few years. Plus, she doesn't like to live her entire life in the spotlight. Here's why it feels like you haven't seen much of Swinton lately, and what she's been working on in the meantime.

She prefers the solitude of the Scottish Highlands

When Swinton began her acting career, she moved to London to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. But eventually, she grew tired of the city life, and she moved back to Scotland, where she had grown up. Today, she has comfortably settled down in the Scottish Highlands, where she feels happiest.

"I mean, I've even lost the way of living in a city. If I had to live in a city again, it would take me a long time. You have to train up to live in a city," Swinton told Esquire. She continued, "I live in the North of Scotland in a house outside like a big village, a small town, there's like 8,000 people in the whole area." Today, she says that she rarely visits London anymore and knows that she is "out of touch" with the industry there. Although she does occasionally think about moving to a city, she has no plans to do so in the near future.

She's a homebody

Swinton is a homebody at heart. She lives in a relatively remote area, and while she loves when her neighbors drop by, she can spend plenty of time at home with her family and feel completely at peace. "I do know how to plant a garden and keep chickens, but I don't know how to do much else," Swinton joked in an interview with Esquire

Swinton and her family always have several dogs around, and she enjoys taking them for walks every day. Basically, Swinton's hobbies are unlikely to make it necessary for the actress to have to wear a disguise to hide from the paparazzi. When she's not working, she doesn't have many reasons to venture out of her cozy town in the Scottish Highlands. And this lifestyle suits Swinton perfectly. In fact, she says that when she was younger, this was exactly what she wanted to do with her life — minus acting! When she imagined what she would do when she grew up, she envisioned herself living in the Highlands near the sea, having a family, and spending plenty of time with her friends.

She does not use social media

Swinton has fans all around the world, but she is fairly oblivious to any attention that she receives online. In fact, she does not use social media at all, and she has no plans to make any accounts.

"I am a complete, complete Luddite. I have no presence on social media, absolutely none, and I never have," Swinton told Vogue. She continued, "I just have other things to do. I know it's going on. It's like there's a forest on fire somewhere down the end of the garden, but I'm concentrating on the roses." Since most actors do have some sort of social media presence today, even if they don't manage their own accounts, Swinton is somewhat unique in this regard. That could be one reason why it feels like she has been lying low, even when she's been working steadily. While Swinton's fans would probably love it if she started using social media, it's pretty clear that she prefers to stay away from it.

She's choosy about her roles

Despite her long string of successful films, Swinton insists that she is not an ambitious person. "I've never had any ambition as an artist. That may sound crazy and transgressive, but it's a fact," Swinton told Vogue.

In fact, Swinton admitted that she typically does not even think of herself as an actress. She knows that it might sound odd because she's been acting for 30 years, but she still feels like she approaches her work differently than other actors.

This may be why she doesn't necessarily chase after blockbuster roles. While she will certainly accept the opportunity to appear in a blockbuster when the chance comes around, she isn't specifically seeking out these roles. And Swinton doesn't go on auditions for roles, either — she's accomplished enough that directors come to her. Overall, she's open to working on films she's truly passionate about, but she will always put passion over potential profits.

She likes to keep working with the same directors

For Swinton, the director she's working with is just as important — if not more so — than the character she's playing or the plot of the film. Her filmography reveals that she tends to work with the same directors over and over again when given the chance, such as Bong Joon-Ho and Wes Anderson. In the early years of her career, she worked with director Derek Jarman on several films, which taught her those supportive relationships with directors who shared her vision were the key to artistic fulfillment.

"We are used to actors moving from project to project in a slightly detached way, or that they are looking over their shoulder for a more interesting project, or more money, but that is not how I approach projects," Swinton said in an interview with the Independent. "I need to work with people that I can trust." She continued, "I always choose the people first." She's more likely to wait for an intriguing role with the right director, even if it means passing up roles that other actors would have jumped at.

She spends years working on a single project

Swinton understands that a great film can take time, which is why she's willing to spend several years patiently working on a single project to give a role the attention it deserves. Swinton states that this kind of focused, long-term attention makes her process unique. She gets the opportunity to personally develop the role with the director and writers, giving lots of input to make the character her own.

"Most people don't develop work the way I customarily do," Swinton told Variety. "They'll wait for someone to place them into their universe with proper crafts­people. Whereas I spend most of my time sitting around my kitchen table with friends, chewing on ideas and building things that take years." Swinton spent five years working on the film Orlando with director Sally Potter, and she dedicated "seven or eight years" to the film Only Lovers Left Alive. When she agreed to appear in I Am Love, she spent a grand total of 11 years committed to the role.

She likes to keep her personal life private

Swinton does not court attention from the press. And even when she is talked about, she isn't too interested in joining in the conversation.

Swinton rarely feels the need to clarify details about her personal life with the press. In fact, it often takes her a while to hear through the grapevine if there is a rumor spreading about her in the first place. "I'm playful at heart," she told Variety. "And myth-making is always fun."

For instance, she split up with her long-time partner, John Byrne, in 2003 after 14 years together. Eventually, she began dating the artist Sandro Kopp, and the couple are still together today. For a while, the press speculated that she had gotten together with Kopp while dating Byrne — and the gossip spread for years before Swinton realized what was being said and came forward to state that it was nothing but a rumor. She prefers to stay relatively oblivious to anything being said about her.

Her most recent projects were short films

If Swinton hasn't been filming blockbusters, what has she been working on? While fans of Swinton might have caught her latest projects, some of her recent work has flown under the radar. In 2020, she narrated the film Last and First Men — while she didn't appear on screen, you might have recognized her voice! The movie explores a futuristic society in which a race of humans faces potential extinction, and surreal monuments beam out messages into the world. 

Swinton also worked on two short films in 2020. She narrated Story and the Writer, which explored a man's efforts to write the perfect screenplay. In addition, she appeared in The Human Voice, which was released in March 2021. In The Human Voice, she played a woman who notes the passing of time while she waits for her ex-lover to come and pick up his suitcases. It's a film about abandonment, and while it was not widely viewed, it did receive glowing reviews. As critic Ryan Rojas wrote in a review for Cinemacy, "Tilda Swinton commands every second of the small screen in Pedro Almodóvar's beautifully staged and winkingly meta new short film."

Tilda Swinton's last feature film wasn't a hit with audiences

The Personal History of David Copperfield, which was released in August 2020, was Swinton's last feature film. The comedic drama adapted Charles Dickens' classic story for the modern age. Swinton played Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield's wealthy great aunt. Betsey eventually takes David in and ends up financing his dream of becoming an author.

Critics held a positive opinion of the film. For instance, in a review for CTV News, critic Richard Crouse deemed it "a sparkling adaptation of the original story that uses wonderful dialogue and physical comedy to paint a heartfelt, serious and timely portrait of social anxiety and inequality." Yet audiences gave the film a mixed reception. And the timing of the release likely did not help — The Personal History of David Copperfield arrived in theaters in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while many film buffs were choosing to stream movies online at home instead. Like many films released during the pandemic, it did not get much buzz because of these unfortunate circumstances.

The French Dispatch was postponed

The pandemic disrupted the production schedule for countless movies and TV shows. Many directors had to postpone shooting for months on end, and therefore, plenty of release dates have been pushed off. While some studios have released films through streaming services, plenty of movies will simply get a later theatrical release than planned, and audiences will have to wait a while to see them.

That's the case for Swinton's highly anticipated upcoming movie The French Dispatch. The Wes Anderson flick was originally slated for a July 2020 release, possibly at the Cannes Film Festival. But the festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the tentative release date was pushed to October 2020. However, that release date didn't pan out either, and now, the premiere is uncertain once again. There is some speculation that the film will debut at Cannes in May 2021. When The French Dispatch is finally released, you're sure to hear Swinton's name everywhere again.

Tilda Swinton's directing a documentary

Swinton is also getting behind the camera. She is currently working on a documentary about progressive education systems around the world. So far, the documentary is untitled and does not have a release date. Swinton has been interested in creating schools that encourage students to reach their full potential for years, and she has firsthand experience in this area. She co-founded the Drumdaun Upper School in Scotland, where her own children attended. The school does not require students to take tests or even sit at desks most of the time. It's likely that her documentary will focus on other unorthodox approaches to education.

This won't be Swinton's first time directing. In 2008, she served as one of several directors for the documentary The New Ten Commandments, which explores human rights in Scotland. And in 2016, she collaborated with three other directors on the film The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger.

She's working on several upcoming movies

While it might seem like Swinton has been laying low, she has been pouring her creative energy into several upcoming projects. Behind the scenes, she has been as busy as ever! First up is her film The Souvenir: Part II, which is a sequel to her 2019 film The Souvenir. Her movie The Eternal Daughter also has an anticipated 2021 release date.

Swinton will also be appearing in a few other films that do not have release dates yet. You will be able to catch her in the movies Three Thousand Years of Longing and Memoria. And she's also going to be voicing a character in Guillermo del Toro's dark adaptation of the classic story Pinocchio.

While Swinton may have been out of the spotlight for a little while, it's clear that even when she isn't working on a major blockbuster film, she's not necessarily enjoying any downtime. She is always open to creative opportunities, whether that means narrating a short film or directing a documentary.