since Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, got to be on screen with a
naked and very beautiful Ewan McGregor in the movie Young Adam (Released in September 2003). The film was a radical departure
from previous roles that Tilda Swinton had played writes Pam Grady. This is the woman, after all, who first
came to filmgoers' attention in the queer cinema of the late Derek Jarman.
She later played the
gender-bending titular character in 1992's Orlando, and an ambitious
lawyer whose erotic desires encompass both men and women in 1996's Female
In the years leading up to Young Adam, she played a fiercely protective mother trying
to shield her gay son from a murder charge in 2001's The Deep End. Then
there was a
repressed scientist who creates three colourful, semen-dependent clones of
herself in 2002's Teknolust.
In contrast, the first impression of Ella Gault, Swinton's character in
Young Adam, is that she is rather drab, living a harsh and nomadic barge
life on Glasgow's canals with her husband, Les (Peter Mullan), and Les'
helper, Joe (Ewan McGregor), a young writer who is harbouring a terrible
secret. But that is before erotic heat threatens to burn the barge down, as
Ella and Joe embark on a tempestuous affair.
The sexual chemistry between
Swinton and McGregor certainly made an impression on
the Motion Picture Association of America, which rated Young Adam
for its cinema release NC-17, a rating normally reserved for pornography. But to hear the
tall, elegant Swinton tell it, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
OutUK: In the US the film has a NC-17 rating. It is sexually frank,
but not that frank. Is the rating because of the full-frontally nude Ewan
Tilda: No, that's not it. That's absolutely not the scene they
wanted to cut. Would you like to guess? If you get it,
I'll be impressed by your cynicism and knowledge of the system.
OutUK: It wouldn't be the scene where he's going down on
you, is it?
Tilda: Yes! That's it. Fully clothed, shot in the dark.
Ewan's a bit disappointed! He was rather hoping it might be his
OutUK: That is so odd, since that is one of the more
discreet scenes in the
Tilda: Let's face it, there's masses and masses of oral
sex, like fellatio, in
all sorts of quite openly rated films. It's just
obviously a very dangerous
OutUK: What was it about this story in particular that
Tilda: It's spun around a sort of Beat sensibility. And I
think it's about
loneliness, which seems to be the subject I'm most
interested in these
days...It is about the alienation of the artist, the
alienation of the
intellectual. I'm personally of the opinion that we're
beginning to live in
a new Beat time. We have a newly repressive society,
and we have a society
where it is hard for anyone with six brain cells to
feel enthusiastic about
being a 100 percent paid-up member. It's a very
alienated time again, and
the feeling of powerlessness is palpable.
OutUK: Ewan's character, Joe, is the intellectual, but
what about your
character, Ella? She's a real piece of work in both
her attitude toward her
husband and Joe. It is never clear if her actions are
motivated by lust for
Joe or something else.
Tilda: There's something that I realized is not in the
film and is not even in
the book. But I discovered when we were preparing the
film that Ewan and I
were working the barge one day, and it's really hard
work with two, you
really need three. And you know what? You couldn't do
it alone. You
certainly couldn't do it alone as a woman. She needs
those men. She cannot
do it without them.
OutUK: Your movie career started with Derek Jarman, and
while you've appeared in
a few mainstream films, notably The Beach and
Vanilla Sky, you have
mainly stuck to the independent realm. Is that a
conscious decision on your
Tilda: Somebody asked me this morning what was the last
Scottish film I made.
Apart from a film I made in something like 1988 with
John Berger, I've never
made a Scottish film; this is the first. I very rarely
work in the U.K. I
love working with American independents, because it
feels like home to me.
It feels like what I started with, which is a kind of
independence that is
difficult to find in the U.K. now.
OutUK: This is a relatively straight part for you. There's
none of the
flamboyancy of Orlando or Female Perversions or
even a relatively small
film like Teknolust. Where does Young Adam fit in
Tilda: It occurred to me that one of the things that's
beginning to crop up in
most of my work is accidental death. It's funny, we
were making The Deep
End, and it had never occurred to me until one
morning when we were
actually shooting that the predicament of Margaret
Hall in The Deep End is
one of my earliest nightmares. I had this early
nightmare, and it used to
happen all the time - and I have to say I stopped
having it - where I was
found with a body, and I knew that I had not been
responsible for its
death, but I knew if I was spotted with it, I would be
held responsible. It
was all about getting rid of the body. I would roll it
up in a carpet and
someone would come in. I'd have a conversation with
them and then I'd look
over their shoulder and I'd see [the carpet]
unrolling. It was just a big
guilt dream. It occurred to me that these two films
[The Deep End and
Young Adam] are about that. They're about getting
rid of a body that you
didn't actually kill and then it resurfacing on you.
The unconscious is a
very strange thing.
Young Adam certificate 18 is available on DVD from
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