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Tilda Swinton Says She’s ‘So Full of Antibodies’ and ‘Faith’ That She’s Refusing To Comply With Mask Requirements On Set

Tilda Swinton in close-up, looking to the side, with glitter on her face.

Damn it, Tilda! When are you going to stop making ridiculous, self-contradicting, inflammatory statements to the public and media? Probably no time soon if we’re being honest with ourselves. Most recently, Academy Award-winning British actress, Tilda Swinton, revealed that she intends to break the on-set masking rules she has been given for her next film.

While giving the keynote address at the 2023 South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), Swinton talked a great deal about the film industry surviving the pandemic and used some of her stage time to express her joy that masks were no longer a required or ubiquitous part of the Texas film festival. She went on to say, or maybe to brag would be a more accurate term, that while filming her next role on location in Ireland, she had plans to ignore the universal masking rules on set.

“I’m actually just about to start shooting a picture in Ireland. And I was told, full disclosure, and I’m sure this is being recorded—people in Ireland might hear it,” Swinton said, perhaps intending to indicate self-awareness that she would be judged on her statement. But Tilda, dear, I think self-awareness may be the one thing you lack, for all your riches and aristocratic blood.

“I was told to wear a mask at all times,” she went on to say. “And I’m not wearing a mask because I’m super healthy and I’ve had COVID so many times and I’m so full of antibodies … and I have faith.” 

Ah yes, the old “faith” prophylactic. Because it’s worked so well throughout history. And how many times can you get COVID before you’re assured immunity? Because it certainly must be at least one more than the last of the “many” times Swinton has contracted it. Strangely enough, the actress seems to have changed her tune about the seriousness of COVID-19. Last year, Swinton spoke to W Magazine about her struggles with long COVID’s effects on her body, including damaging her memory. “I was coughing like an old gentleman who smoked a pipe for 70 years, and had nasty vertigo,” she said at the time. The Guardian also reported on her months-long symptoms and three weeks of bed-bound illness. 

Plus, it’s a bit ironic that during the same speech wherein Swinton spoke so freely about bucking masking rules put there for the safety of the group at work on her new film, she spent time decrying self-centeredness and the focus on the individual instead of the community in filmmaking. 

“There is a belief that when you make a film or write a story, that all the focus is on you as an individual. The spotlight is on you,” she said. “One thing that I can attest to, that I am actually a real poster child of, is staying collective.” Acting for the good of the individual is a youngster problem, she explained, saying “There is such a new virus in the air about being an individual, which frankly speaking, people of our generation didn’t have to deal with.”

Oh, Tilda, you are so good at acting and embodying characters, and that takes so much insight. So why aren’t you more self-aware? 

“Look at you, I bet none of you are wearing masks, as well,” she said to the audience, looking for assurance for her anti-mask ideas. “I mean, who knew that was gonna be possible,” she asked. “I mean in Texas, did people wear masks? I have to ask,” she said to the audience in the blue bubble of Austin. “I don’t know,” she added. “It’s a wide world and people do things differently all over the place,” adding, “But it’s very nice to see your faces unmasked.” (As a reminder, SXSW and other film festivals’ refusal to implement mask mandates, along with their elimination or heavy limitations on virtual components, has been devastating for immunocompromised and disabled critics and other entertainment professionals.)

Swinton was at SXSW promoting her new film, Problemista, which she stars in along with writer-director Julio Torres. According to the actress’ IMDB page, the film Swinton is set to film in Ireland is The End, billed as “a Golden Age-style musical about the last human family,” directed by Joshua Oppenheimer.

(via EW, featured image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for SXSW)

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