Tilda Swinton feels most at home at the Berlin Film Festival, but she’s steadily become a regular at the Cannes Film Festival.
“I’m racking them up,” she says cheerfully the day after the premiere of Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die.”
“I like this summer-holiday feel. These are wonderful family reunions,” Swinton said in an interview at Cannes’ Carlton Hotel. “If I’m with Jim Jarmusch, I’m with the Jim team. If I’m with Bong Joon-ho, I’m with the Bong team. If I’m with Wes Anderson, I’m with the Wes team. You’re having a summer holiday with your friends on the beach. It’s sort of silly. I like the silliness of it.”
But Swinton is nostalgic for one aspect of the festival that has waned in recent years: “the Troma-ness of Cannes,” she says, alluding to the once ubiquitous Troma Entertainment, the aggressively promotional indie factory of low-budget exploitation movies.
‘The Dead Don’t Die’, which is competing in Cannes for the Palme d’Or, isn’t a Troma film by any stretch. But it shares some genre DNA. Jarmusch’s film is about a small town named Centerville where “polar fracking” alters the Earth’s rotation and the undead begin to walk the streets. Swinton, who memorably starred as a thoroughly well-read vampire in Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, plays the town’s mortician. The film’s all-star cast included Adam Driver, Bill Murray, pop idol Selena Gomez and Chloe Sevigny.
“At some point at the end of our adventure with ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ Jim said, ‘Let’s do a zombie movie next,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘What do you want to be?’ I said, pretty much off the cuff, ‘I want to be the funeral director who’s put out because the dead don’t die.’ That was it. He laughed and went away. And then all the rest, he did.”
For even Swinton, the character is an eccentric one. She speaks with a pronounced version of her own Scottish accent and is a master swordsman. Swinton, finally, is a zombie-killing Scottish samurai warrior.
“I’ve very proud of that body count,” she says, smiling. “I love it.”