Tilda Swinton I Am LoveOscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton ('Michael Clayton') delivers yet another radiant performance in the new Italian melodrama 'I Am Love,' which re-teams her with director Luca Guadagnino.

In the film, opening in select theaters Friday, Swinton plays Emma, a Russian woman who marries into a wealthy Italian family. At first glance, Emma appears to have it all: money, a loving husband, beautiful children -- that is, until she meets Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a budding young chef who is a friend of her son's. The two quickly enter into a passionate, yet ultimately tragic, love affair that will alter the course of Emma's family forever.

In preparation for the film's release, Swinton spoke to Moviefone about how long it took to get made, speaking Italian, winning an Oscar, her plans for the future and whether she and Guadagnino really plan to remake 'Auntie Mame.' Tilda Swinton I Am LoveOscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton ('Michael Clayton') delivers yet another radiant performance in the new Italian melodrama 'I Am Love,' which re-teams her with director Luca Guadagnino.

In the film, opening in select theaters Friday, Swinton plays Emma, a Russian woman who marries into a wealthy Italian family. At first glance, Emma appears to have it all: money, a loving husband, beautiful children -- that is, until she meets Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a budding young chef who is a friend of her son's. The two quickly enter into a passionate, yet ultimately tragic, love affair that will alter the course of Emma's family forever.

In preparation for the film's release, Swinton spoke to Moviefone about the 10-plus years it took for 'I Am Love' to be made, speaking Italian, winning an Oscar and whether she and Guadagnino really plan to remake 'Auntie Mame.'

I read somewhere that the movie took 10 or 11 years to get made. Do you remember how the idea was first developed?

The conversation started 11 years ago, because me and Luca Guadagnino, who is a friend I've known for 20 years, started to kick around this idea -- a fancy of a kind of film that we'd like to see -- and we started to sort of dare each other with fantasies about making a kind of emotional family film that was almost a silent film with a great school and dealing with the kind of detail that one doesn't often see in the cinema anymore. About seven years ago, we actually started honing in on the story. We decided to make a film about love, and about a woman for whom love becomes a sort of revolution and so then we started thinking about a milieu she might be in for which that revolution would actually be really, really charged and breakable. So then we started to think about Milan and that sort of milieu and on it went. We just sort of pieced it together really.

What other projects are the two of you currently working on?

At this moment, we are in the process of -- we're going to start adapting a novel that we found which is, well, I can say it's about murder.

Last September, Luca said that you were going to collaborate with him on a remake of 'Auntie Mame.' Is that actually happening?
[Laughs] We noticed recently that Luca was referred to as the "rampantly indiscreet Guadagnino." Which made us laugh so much, because it is very true. Luca chose the moment after the Venice premiere of this film to tell Variety or Screen International or something that he and I were developing 'Auntie Mame.' [Laughs] Which is, you know, like somebody telling Variety or Screen International what you dreamt up at three in the morning over a bottle of wine. So there's the rampantly indiscreet Guadagnino. But having said that, apparently everybody thinks it's a really good idea, so we're hoping somebody might give us the rights. [Laughs] And then we'll do it. But until then it's just out of the mouth of the rampantly indiscreet Guadagnino.

Would you say that you're his muse?
Oh, I think he's my muse, isn't he? [Laughs] I think we're each other's muse.

Tilda Swinton I Am Love'I Am Love' reminded me a lot of the Sirkian films from the '50s. Were there any particular films that the story was influenced by?
Oh, there's so many movies. So many novels. I mean, obviously we thought about Douglas Sirk, and we thought about that whole atmosphere of melodramas from the '50s, but also the kind of sensational cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. We kind of referenced him in the scene when I'm walking in the streets of San Raven with my hair in a kind of Tippi Hedren knot. We thought about Rosselini, and Visconti and particularly 'Senso.' We thought about the novels of Tolstoy and Thomas Mann and we thought about 'The Dead' by John Huston, which is a kind of piece about a family. We thought about all of it -- and this is why it kind of took so long to make the film. For the first four years of us talking about it, we were just filtering all our favorite works and trying to find a way forward into the kind of modern evolution of cinema, rather than just make some homage and quote something from the '50s. We wanted to try and find a way forward and that takes some working out.

The film is almost entirely in Italian. How long have you known the language?
I've never really spoken it with confidence. I still don't speak it with confidence and I will forever speak it, of course, with a Russian accent. But I've been in Italy a fair bit over the last 15 years, so I have some of it.

One of the best moments in the film is the sex scene between Emma and Antonio. What was it like to film that scene?
It was really easy. It's a really beautiful place, and we were just a group of very close friends who were just, you know, got out a camera, took off our clothes and rolled around in the straw. It was very easy. Edoardo Gabbriellini, who plays Antonio, is a great friend of ours. He's a filmmaker in his own right, and he's so smart and totally gets it. We had a great time. It's just a really, really beautiful scene.

Did you get to keep any of the clothes from the movie?

I have a fair few of them. There's fantastic orange pants -- I realize now that the film is opening I can't wear them anymore [laughs], because they're such a a sort of amber light across the street. I can't wear them. I've been wearing them for two years. I guess I have to stop wearing them now. [Laughs]

Tilda Swinton I Am LoveThe final scene of 'I Am Love' is a bit open-ended. Would you consider returning to this character in another movie?
The sequel, the sequel. I'd love it. There was a moment in one draft -- in fact, fairly late on in the drafts, there was a scene that was set seven years later, five or seven years later, where Emma was working and she was sort of living in very reduced circumstances and her daughter comes to see her. It's amazing. I'm trying to remember it now. We were going to shoot it until really very late on in the film and then we ran out of time. But I'm very glad we didn't shoot it now. Let's see. I don't know. In 20 years time, we might do a sort of 'Godfather' return. See what happens in Italy. You never know. Maybe we'll need to.

You seemed genuinely surprised when you won the Oscar for 'Michael Clayton.' Is that true?
Sure, absolutely. My way of describing it is, it's a little bit like somebody giving you tickets to Wimbledon and you go thinking, "Wow. I'm so lucky to go," and then somebody hands you a racket halfway through the match. No, it was absolutely not the reason I went. If I had any idea that was going to happen, I don't think I would have gone. [Laughs]

I know that you gave the Oscar to your agent. Any plans to get it back?
No! It's not mine. It's his!

Has anything changed since you won?
The only thing that's changed is that people ask me that question and I still don't know how to answer it. The truth is, everything I've done since then I was going to do, anyway. Quite soon after the Oscars, we made 'I Am Love' that summer, and we released 'Julia,' which was gonna happen, anyway, and this year we've made 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' which is going to be out next year. Nothing's really happened since. The only thing that I'd hope might change is that maybe people that wouldn't normally go to see a film like this go to see 'I Am Love.' Otherwise, everything is absolutely as it was.


What I love about you is, in one year we'll see you in an Oscar-winning movie like 'Michael Clayton,' and in the next year, we'll see you in an indie like 'Julia.' Do you prefer independent movies to Hollywood productions?

What you need to know is that there's a difference, for me, between 'Julia,' 'I Am Love' and 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' for example, and the work that I made with Derek Jarman and the work I make in Europe. There's a difference between that work and the work that America may have seen in the last few years. Which is that those films that I just mentioned are films that have taken a long time to grow, they've been seeds in the ground for years. This film, as you know, took 11 years. 'Julia' took several years to get off the ground. This film I made with Lynne Ramsey took four or five years. Meanwhile, while those films are growing, I've been invited to make a few films with American filmmakers that haven't taken up that much time -- and I'm including 'Michael Clayton,' by the way, or even the 'Narnia' films. They're like, in a way, holidays that I've taken while developing these other independent films, which take a lot of time and effort to grow from scratch. The surprising thing for me is that I should have ever been invited to make films in Hollywood. My real place and my real business in the world is making these independent films in Europe, and that's where I live.

Is there a genre of film that you wouldn't do?

If it was a film I didn't want to see, a film I didn't want to see or a film made with people that I didn't necessarily want to see every morning -- that's really the presiding [issue] for me, making work with people I really like. In terms of genre, though, no. I'm a passionate advocate of the elasticity of cinema, so I like playing the field as it were.

So you're saying you'd do a Sandra Bullock-type romantic comedy then?
Absolutely, absolutely.

Watch 'I Am Love' Trailer


Do you have a favorite film that you've worked on?

Oh God. I'm not particularly attentive to my performances, to be honest with you. I mean, I have a clutch of favorite experiences. For me, my filmography is like a family album, so it's very hard for me to pick one family holiday over another family holiday. I mean, there are great memories from all of them, but I'm happy to say that 'Orlando' -- which is a great favorite film of mine amongst all of the others -- is just about to be re-released. It's going to be re-released next month, on, July 23.

What's next for you?
A big, big break. A lot of sleep. [Laughs]

Do you have any new roles in the works?
There are some seeds in the ground, but I've just had a bit of a harvest. These three have taken a long time to get made. [With] 'Julia,' 'I Am Love' and 'Kevin,' I've had a harvest, so I'm going to have a sabbatical for awhile. There are some seeds in the ground, but I don't think you'll see anything for a while.

Is there anything you can tease about 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'?
I can promise you a Lynne Ramsey film, which is the highest praise I can give. We're all very, very excited about it ... I would say it's sort of a 'Rosemary's Baby' approach to childcare. [Laughs]