Tilda Swinton is a force to be reckoned with. Her career is one of those that has shown the depths of where she can go. She’s done it all. Deep drama, comedy, and fun fantastical characthers In Doctor Strange Tilda plays The Ancient One:
The wise and enigmatic figure known only as The Ancient One has safeguarded the secrets of the Mystic Arts for a very long time indeed. When she encountered Stephen Strange, the centuries-old sage saw potential in the bedraggled ex-surgeon and agreed to show him a new side to reality: the mystical way of magic!
Which basically means she kicked some butt! As Tilda walked into the room with a round of applause she sat graciously all the while looking regal. Now let’s get to the interview:
Q: So what was it like getting into costume for the Ancient One?
TS:Oh it’s such a great costume! It’s very— like, pajamas. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] Yeah really, really great. And those beautiful colors… Yeah, really… really wonderful.
Q: Did you have any struggles with this particular role?
TS: The only real struggle was casting spells – learning all these amazing things with fingers, and then remembering what to say at the same time. They would say, ‘So you have to put your hands there, not there because the light is going to go [MAKES SOUND] so that kind of masks… but it was all good.
Q: How did you feel about being cast in a role that’s traditionally an Asian man?
TS: Well you know, the comic strip… yeah, was an Asian man, in fact, a very ancient Tibetan man living on the top of a mountain. The film script that I was given wasn’t an Asian man, so I wasn’t asked to play an Asian man – I was asked to play an ancient Celtic person. If I’d been asked to play an Asian man I would’ve shown them Benedict Wong. Kevin, and Scott were very, very clear about the reasons they wanted to shake up the stereotype. They felt that there were couple of kind of gnarly,racial stereotypes around the two big Asian characters in the film, one was Benedict’s—Benedict Wong’s character; he was a sort of servant. The other was the Ancient One, who was a kind of old, wise Fu Manchu character. Scott wanted to make it a woman, which thank you, yes,the male overlord falls over….
Which, I think was a really, really cool move, you know, to put a woman in the Marvel universe who’s not twenty-one and in a bikini was a good thing – although we love the girls in bikinis, but it’s really important, I think, the idea of a sorceress supreme being a woman. Then when he thought of an Asian woman, he was worried that it would turn into a kind of dragon lady thing. It was such fun.
Q: Did you do your own stunts?
TS: I did a lot of them, but there was an amazing stunt double who I worked with called ‘Julia’ who became a friend. We all had stunt doubles. We always do… ‘cause they do the things that uh… really dangerous.
Q: What was the dynamic of everyone on set?
TS: We were sooo happy! I mean, it’s a little like – I don’t know about anybody else in Marvel movies, but for me, it was like being asked to join the circus. We all joined the circus and we were all given these incredible costumes and everybody in the Marvel universe that I’ve met so far is so psyched to be a part of it, even though there are some people who have been there for years, you know – technicians or people who have (lived) all these films for years, or Alex Byrne who does the costumes, she’d done like seven Marvel films – nobody’s jaded, everybody’s psyched, it’s a playground! The cast, we were all so happy to know each other. We’re so happy to see each other here! Benedict and I were in China just now, but today we’re all meeting our other cast members. We’re so happy.
Q: Was there anything you learned about yourself while making this film?
TS: I really loved all the action, and I loved the feeling of being, I mean his is kind of a boring answer, because it’s about the daily work. But there was something about—we were all very physical while we were working, and we would kind of, you know, jump over to a B stage and do some physical stunts, and then we’d come back and do some quite Zen scene. I had a reminder of something I should’ve learned earlier which is, that it’s really important to do the two. Physical kind of energetic life, alongside some kind of introspection… is a really healthy thing. I didn’t get sick throughout the shoot, and we all always get sick when we’re shooting, and I didn’t get sick, and I think that’s something to do with that. So that’s quite a dull answer but that was true – I did learn that.
I remembered and was reminded of how, um… lazy I am. And how difficult, I find learning lines is, and I tried something with the Ancient One which was quite tricky, which was I tried to actually be in a kind of state of mindfulness when I was speaking. Which meant that I didn’t really learn my lines very well. That was something I learned. I don’t think I’ll do that again. That was quite hairy. I just was reminded again, and how good it is to be happy when you work.
Q: How would you describe your character, the Ancient One, in one word?
TS: It’s a noun and not an adjective – it’s perspective.
A neurosurgeon with a destroyed career sets out to repair his hands only to find himself protecting the world from inter-dimensional threats.
***Disclosure: I attended the #DoctorStrangeEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***