To play the very old Madame D., whose death and will drive the plot of Wes Anderson’s extraordinary “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Tilda Swinton endured five hours in the makeup chair to put on her appearance and five hours to take it off.
“I only did it for two days,” said the Oscar-winning actress (“Michael Clayton”), 53, by phone from SXSW in Austin, Texas. “So it was not like Jim Carrey in ‘The Grinch’ or any of that kind of stuff.” (Note: Stay tuned for a longer interview with Swinton about "Only Lovers Left Alive," opening in Chicago in April.)
How did you occupy yourself in the makeup chair?
It was fascinating watching the way these guys work. I had a whole team taking these bits of what looked like bacon and putting them on my face and arms and earlobes. It’s fascinating. I’m such a nerd about that kind of stuff. I really, really loved it.
Is it a compliment to say I totally believed you were an old woman?
It’s the most romantic thing that you could say to me. Thank you very, very, very much.
After “Moonrise Kingdom,” this is the second consecutive small-but-significant role you’ve done for Wes Anderson. What does he bring out of you?
Oh, it’s like going to the best fancy dress party in the world, and you get your costume provided for you. And in this case half a butcher shop of meat to stick on my face. It was just a hilarious and wonderful group of people. It would be hard to resist any party that Wes Anderson threw as far as I’m concerned.
Is there an untold story you can tell me about the filming of “Grand Budapest”?
An untold true story, or should I make one up?
That’s up to you.
[Laughs.] I don’t know; I don’t know what’s told and what’s not told. What can I tell you? It’s a beautiful film. It’s Wes Anderson at the top of his game. Most of the cast came in and out. It was like holiday camp with people coming in and out, almost sleeping in each other’s beds, one night after the next, ships in the night. It was great. And we all went to see the film, and it was better than all of us could imagine, and Wes Anderson holds that all in his head. It’s kind of phenomenal.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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