A lot of actors cultivate the appearance of being multi-layered and kind of bizarre, but few have made it their life’s work like Tilda Swinton and James Franco seemingly have. Both Tilda and James known as experimental beings who often gender bend and play with their own identities. But while some of James’ antics seem like calculated affectations (ahem, “General Hospital”), there is no denying that Tilda is an absolute dyed-in-the-wool weirdo. Here are five strange things Tilda Swinton did long before James Franco had even dreamed of appearing on daytime television as, like, a total cultural statement, man.
1. Physically been a work of art
James Franco has a reputation for being a pretty serious art collector, and he has even picked up a beret and a baguette and given the profession a shot himself. The highlight of JF’s career as an artiste came in 2011 with the creation of a multimedia work called “Three’s Company The Drama,” which debuted at Sundance. (I saw it, it was pretty goofy but totally Instagrammable.) But despite these art world ties, and ignoring that chiseled jaw, James has never actually been a work of art himself. But Tilda has! In 1995, the redheaded wonder and a woman named Joanne Scanlan created a live instillation piece for London’s Serpentine Gallery that placed a sleeping Tilda inside a publicly viewable glass case. Tilda repeated the piece early this year at the MoMa and caused the Internet to collectively sigh, “Man, Tilda Swinton is soooo weird.”
2. Inspired an entire fashion line
For their 2003 fall line, fashion house Viktor & Rolf created an entire collection around the celestial being that is Tilda Swinton. Their luxurious, androgyny-friendly pieces included a lot of high collars, lapels and other tailored layered things akin to what their pail muse typically wears. For the runway show, models were made up to look like an army of Tildas, and Miss Swinton herself even read a poem, which included the line, "There is only one you. Only one.”
It’s hard to imagine what a James Franco-inspired fashion line would look like, although I wouldn’t mind seeing one dedicated to his “Spring Breakers” character, Alien. Shorts in every single color!
3. Adopted a fringe political identity
While a student at Cambridge studying political science, Tilda became an official member of the Communist Party (and given that hair, probably its mascot too). She has since retracted her allegiances, but still, the closest James Franco has gotten to making any sort of political statement is looking like he could maybe be a Kennedy cousin.
4. Founded a quirky film festival
No, the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams isn’t a new Michel Gondry movie (sorry Gael Garcia Bernal), it’s a film festival created by Tilda and filmmaker Mark Cousins. Inaugurated in 2008, the festival lasted for eight-and-a-half days at a rented ballroom in the Scottish Highlands. Instead of chairs, attendees sat on giant beanbags, and those who couldn’t afford the three-buck admission could pay in cake or brownies instead. Eat your heart out, Zooey Deschanel! And share with James Franco, who probably likes to screen psychedelic YouTube videos in his living room.
5. Birthed twins
I’m convinced Tilda willed herself to conceive twins (teenagers Honor and Xavier) because it was a weirder thing to do than conceiving a single child. Not only did Tilda beat James to the twins punch, she was also first to name her child something starting with the letter X. Even Mother Nature admired Tilda Swinton’s weirdness.