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Warning to all of Hollywood: working with Tom Hiddleston means becoming the latest addition to his library of impressions, or so The Hollywood Reporter was told by Tilda Swinton at a special screening of Jim Jarmusch‘s Only Lovers Left Alive on Wednesday night at New York City’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema.
“We just sort of chewed it and had a great time,” said Swinton of playing a vampire opposite Hiddleston, who can accurately imitate Owen Wilson (after Midnight in Paris), Chris Hemsworth (Thor and Avengers) and even Joey from War Horse, among others. “We were nocturnal quite a lot, and we played all sorts of silly stuff. He does quite a lot of impressions pretty constantly.” When asked if he ever debuted his best Swinton impression, she responded, “I don’t know, I haven’t seen it! I’m doubtless, but I have seen his Jim Jarmusch and it’s very good!”
Only Lovers Left Alive casts Swinton as a spirited Eve, who has been married to Hiddleston’s reclusive Adam for centuries and counts Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), Lord Byron and Mary Wollstonecraft among their acquaintances. She is troubled by both the surprise arrival of her wild sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) and the crisis caused because humans have learned how to contaminate their own blood. The film also stars Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright and Slimane Dazi.
“One of the reasons we love it so much is because it’s fresh — it’s a vampire film that no one has ever seen before, and that makes it magical,” said Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker, who nabbed the North American rights to the title with Tom Bernard just before its world premiere at Cannes last year. “This is one of [Jarmusch’s] best films ever. Tom and I actually distributed one of his films in 1989, and to see him in 2014 at the peak of his form is fantastic.”
He added that producer Jeremy Thomas was a big reason they signed on, and that “Tilda Swinton is a force to be reckoned with — she has been a Sony Classics muse for many years, starting with Orlando in 1993.”
Jarmusch has previously stated that the film, set in Detroit and Tangier and almost entirely at night, is partially inspired by Mark Twain‘s The Diaries of Adam and Eve. And though THR’s chief film critic Todd McCarthy, in his Cannes review, supposed that it may be “perhaps the closest attempt by the enigmatic, adamantly independent director at veiled and self-consciously twisted autobiography,” Jarmusch responded that Adam is “not particularly” a character based on himself, as “there’s a bit of me in all of these characters.”
Only Lovers Left Alive’s April release date is sandwiched tightly between two of Swinton’s other films: The Grand Budapest Hotel and Snowpiercer. When asked how the vampire role compared to her other projects, the art house actress, wearing a patterned Haider Ackermann look, told THR, “The awful thing is it all feels like the same thing to me. I mean, I’m in this really lucky position where I’m working with my friends, and they either ring me up or send me an email and say, ‘Do you want to play on this?’ Whether it’s Wes Anderson saying, ‘Do you want to come and be this old lady for five minutes, or even less?’ — less than five minutes, I would say! — or Jim ringing me up and saying, ‘Should we make a vampire film?’ which took us eight years to finally make! They’re my friends, I’d hang out with them anyway, but to hang out with them and make a film is wonderful.”
She continued, “And Bong Joon-ho, with whom I made Snowpiercer, which is coming in the summer and is really going to blow everybody out of the water, that was the same thing. I hadn’t worked with him before, but he’s a new friend, and that was a delight, working with him.”
After the screening hosted by The Cinema Society with W magazine editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi — which drew Christy Turlington, Elementary’s Jonny Lee Miller, Sandro Kopp, Carol Kane, 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander, Girls’ Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Patti Smith, Stellan Skarsgard, Nicky Hilton, and designers Nanette Lepore, Anna Sui and Stacey Bendet — the crowd moved just a few blocks south to SoHo’s brand-new adjacent hotspots Chalk Point Kitchen and The Handy Liquor Bar.
Only Lovers Left Alive is set for a limited U.S. release April 11.
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