Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are 100% my own!
Interview: Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One
Oh my gosh, just look at her! Stunning and just so down to earth, Tilda Swinton was the perfect actress to play The Ancient One. I absolutely love her in this role, and I also love how much depth she brought to this character. I so enjoyed our interview, and I am excited to share it with you!
The first, and most obvious question was to have Tilda expand on how this role came to be, especially considering that The Ancient One was originally an Asian man.
Well, you know the comic strip was an Asian man, in fact, a very ancient Tibetan man living on the top of a mountain. The film script that I was given wasn’t an Asian man, I was asked to play an ancient Celtic person. If I’d been asked to play an Asian man I would have shown them Benedict Wong but Kevin and Scott were very, very clear about the reasons they wanted to shake up the stereotype. They felt that there were couple of kind of gnarly racial stereotypes around the two big Asian characters in the film, one was Benedict’s Benedict Wong’s character; he was a sort of servant. And the other was the Ancient One, who was a kind of old, wise Fu Manchu character. Scott wanted to make it a woman, which I think was a really, really cool move, you know, to put a woman in the Marvel universe who’s not twenty-one and in a bikini was a good thing. Although we love the girls in bikinis, but it’s really important, I think, the idea of a sorceress supreme being a woman. And then when he thought of an Asian woman, he was worried that it would turn into a kind of dragon lady thing.
When asked about her costume, she got a huge smile on her face:
Oh it’s such a great costume! It’s very much like, pajamas. Really, really great. And those beautiful colors… really wonderful.
What were the biggest challenges while filming?
The only real struggle was casting spells – learning all these amazing things with fingers, and then remembering what to say at the same time.
What was the most difficult scene to film, and why?
Oooo… I have to think because it was all really quite easy. I mean, the fighting is fantastic fun, really good fun – and difficult and interesting in fun ways. But also tough. You know, I set myself the task that the Ancient One would be completely serene through all the fighting. That was— that was something because I would challenging anybody to do these moves without going making noises like a nine-year-old boy.
I absolutely love her baldness in this role, it fit her character so well and she is just stunning. It was so neat to hear that the baldness was her call.
Well it was my decision, it was my suggestion and we had several months of playing with options, all sorts of weird wig ideas, all sorts of long lobes and we went ‘round the houses with it but eventually, it felt like less was more and I loved it. I thought it looked really, really ancient, but also kind of modern and rad.
“Yes I’m a rad superhero myself, but I’m telling you, be authentic. You can control your mind; you have a choice about your reaction to obstacles in your life, and to serve something greater than yourself!” ~ Tilda Swinton
And I won’t through out any spoilers (because I can’t stand them!) but I will tell you that The Ancient One might possibly be one of my top 3 favorite Marvel characters and a lot of that is due to her depth and the amazing messages that this character shares. I asked her about this, and asked her how she felt about the deep and profound lines that her character has.
Yes, there were a couple of lines I must say I found it such a privilege to say. There’s a moment earlier than that, when I’m teaching Doctor Strange and looking straight into the camera – basically teaching the globe’s population of fifteen-year-olds about mindfulness. That was like, WOW! This is such a great chance, you know, to say ‘Yes I’m a rad superhero myself, but I’m telling you, be authentic. You can control your mind; you have a choice about your reaction to obstacles in your life, and to serve something greater than yourself!’
I mean, that’s the kind of thing that one can imagine saying in – or learning in – a different kind of movie, but to put that in a Marvel film and know that it’s going to be picked up by all of our kids was a nice— nice thing.
And finally, when asked to sum up The Ancient One in one word, she nailed it. Did I mention how much I love this character!?
It’s a noun and not an adjective – it’s perspective. Yeah.
Amazing!! I can’t wait for you all to see this film, and in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
More Doctor Strange Interviews Coming Soon!
Stay tuned from more of my interviews with other talent from this movie including Tilda Swinton (“The Ancient One”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Kaecilius”), Benedict Wong (“Wong”) and Director Scott Derrickson.
Photo credits: Disney and Dusty from As Mom Sees It.
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