In her latest film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton portrays a parent whose 15-year-old son commits a massacre at his school, giving audiences a stark depiction of motherhood that’s not often seen in Hollywood, much less talked about in society.
For Swinton, as a mom of teenage twins Xavier and Honor, she finds the movie’s honest admission that it is indeed difficult at times to raise a child, rather refreshing, and she makes it a point to pass the message along to new parents.
“I remember very soon after giving birth realizing that my imagination had taken on a kind of brutal capacity that it had never had before,” Swinton told reporters while promoting the movie at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Pregnancy is brutal as it is, but there is something about the experience of childbirth that stretches in every sense your imaginary capacity for brutality.
“And I don’t think you ever go back,” adds Tilda. “There is a sort of innocence you lose. You get sort of blooded, literally. When I read the book, it spoke to that, and I was so grateful.
“I’ve made it my business ever since to say to expectant parents: It’s going to be a nightmare. And it’s going to be wonderful, and you’re never going to regret it, but it’s going to be a nightmare. Amazingly, very few people seem to say this.”
Helping her navigate through that nightmare is Tilda’s husband, Scottish painter John Byrne, 71, and Sandro Kopp, another painter 18 years her junior, whom she’s been seeing since 2004 with Byrne’s blessing.
“I’m very fortunate,” Swinton, 50, says of her non-traditional relationship. “It takes some extraordinary men to make a situation like that work.”
We Need to Talk About Kevin, co-starring John C. Reilly, is based on Lionel Shriver’s best-selling book. The film is already creating a lot of buzz at Cannes, with Swinton a front-runner for the Best Actress prize.