Friends give Tilda Swinton alcoholic inspiration

Tue May 5, 2009 12:11pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British actress Tilda Swinton says drinking just makes her sleepy or sick so when seeking inspiration to play a loud, hard-partying alcoholic in her latest film, she turned to her friends.

The self-confessed "art world freak," who won a best supporting actress Oscar last year for "Michael Clayton," plays a 40-year-old flamboyant, lying alcoholic in "Julia," which opens in some U.S. theaters on Friday.

"I'm so aware very often when you see alcoholism in films, people tend to emphasize something that I don't really recognize in the alcoholics I know and love, which is a kind of loser quality," Swinton told Reuters in a recent interview.

"I don't think of alcoholics as losers, particularly. Alcoholics tend to number the most energetic and fantastic people I know. So I was always thinking it would be nice to look at that kind of portrait," she said.

Swinton, 48, confessed that due to her own drinking experience -- "If I get drunk, I throw up or I go to sleep," the actress said -- she was concerned as to whether she could successfully "stagger around being drunk" in the film.

"But once I started, I realized that I've actually been doing that for years because my friends are drunk and I pretend to be drunk," said Swinton, who lives in the Scottish Highlands with artist John Byrne and their 11-year-old boy and girl twins.

The film directed by Erick Zonca, which premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival, was released last year in Britain and some European countries. It follows Julia as she commits a crime after a chance encounter with a Mexican woman.


<p>British Actress Tilda Swinton poses during an interview with Reuters in New York, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>