Tilda Swinton Facts
Tilda Swinton is known for her unique appearance and eccentric roles, but that only scratches the surface of this international star.

Swinton began her career in creative, arthouse flicks before slowly transitioning to more mainstream roles, though don't pigeon-hole her as merely an actress; she's inspired designers and appeared in performance art around the globe. This summer, she's back on the big screen (and nearly unrecognizable) in the critically acclaimed "Snowpiercer."

From her incredible family ancestry to her connection to David Bowie, here are 25 things you probably don't know about Tilda Swinton.

1. Tilda Swinton was born Katherine Matilda Swinton on November 5, 1960 in London, England to Sir John Swinton and Judith Balfour.

2. Her paternal ancestry is Anglo-Scot and can be traced back a thousand years, to the Middle Ages. A Thousand Years. I can't even process that...

3. Clan Swinton is of Saxon origin and descended from the nobles of the kingdom of Northumberland, which straddles the modern-day border between Scotland and England. The Swinton's have an 11th century charter (via Edgar, King of Scotland) granting them possession of the village of Swinewood in the county of Berwickshire. This geographical location put them in the middle of Scotland's centuries-long fight to gain independence.

4. In the late 13th century, the family patriarchs swore allegiance to the King of England, yet less than 100 years later, the then patriarch, a Scottish commander, led the Scots to victory at the Battle of Otterburn.

5. According to legend, the family name was given for their bravery in ridding the country of wild boar -- as the family arms indicates.

6. The clan's impact is more than just ceremonial even today. Tilda Swinton's father was a highly decorated Major-General, who served, and was twice wounded, in World War II.

7. Meanwhile, her mother's great-grandfather was Scottish botanist John Hutton Balfour.

8. The actress studied Social and Political Science at Cambridge University before graduating with a degree in English Literature.

9. Despite her rich heritage, Swinton joined the Communist Party while at Cambridge and, later, the Scottish Socialist Party.

10. While at Cambridge, she performed in numerous stage productions before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her time with the Company was short-lived, however, and she soon left to pursue independent film projects.

11. Swinton's partly androgynous appearance lent itself to her early film roles, many of which explored gender identity. In the critically-acclaimed "Orlando" (1992), based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, the actress played a nobleman who changes sexes over the course of 400 years.

12. She even played Mozart in Aleksandr Pushkin's "Mozart and Salieri."

13. Swinton has said that people unfamiliar with her often refer to the actress as "Sir" because of her height, lack of lipstick, and overall appearance. She was once even searched by a male guard at airport security!

14. In 1988, she appeared in Derek Jarman's "War Requiem," opposite Laurence Olivier, in what would be Olivier's final acting role.

15. Even when the actress takes on more mainstream roles, from "The Beach" and "Vanilla Sky" to "The Chronicles of Narnia" series and "Michael Clayton," her characters never cease to be entirely hers.

16. Her performance in "Michael Clayton" (2007) opposite George Clooney earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She was the 131st actress to receive an Academy Award.

17. In her acceptance speech, Swinton said she would give her Oscar to her agent.

18. Hardly limited to acting, Swinton and her friend Joanna Scanian developed a performance art piece that featured Swinton in a glass case, asleep, and on display to the public for a week. She performed this piece in 1995 in London, 1996 in Rome, and 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

19. Swinton also served as the muse for Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf, who made an entire 2003 collection with her in mind.

20. She's even contributed to the music world. In February 2013, she played the role of David Bowie's wife in his music video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."

21. In 2005, Swinton performed live with Patti Smith on four separate nights, reading texts from various authors.

22. Despite the rumors, the actress does not maintain relationships with two different men.

23. Swinton and the Scottish playwright and artist John Byrne were together for over a decade and have two children together, twins Honor and Xavier (born 1997).

24. For several years now, the actress has been in a relationship with Sandro Kopp, a German painter.

25. Recently, Swinton appeared in front of Moscow's Kremlin holding a rainbow flag and released a statement -- "In solidarity. From Russia with love." -- to show her support of the LGBT community after Russia's persecution of LGBT citizens.

[Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb]

CATEGORIES Movies