When it comes to movie magic, you’d be hard-pressed to find an actress who has established herself as more of a shape shifter than Tilda Swinton. Between her roles as the White Queen in the Narnia Trilogy and her glamorous turn as a wounded matriarch in I Am Love (which she acted entirely in Italian!), Swinton has a unique talent for losing herself completely in her characters. She’s at it again in Jim Jarmusch’s stylish vampire film, Only Lovers Left Alive, in which she plays a centuries-old bloodsucker with a penchant for romance. We look back at some of her most unbelievable on-screen transformations.
Madame D., Grand Budapest Hotel
For Wes Anderson’s latest masterpiece, Swinton underwent hours of makeup to emerge as Madame D., a rich, saucy octogenarian. We watched the trailer two times before we realized it was her.
Social Services, Moonrise Kingdom
In yet another Anderson tale, Swinton transformed into a redheaded, swift-talking social worker with a wardrobe made exclusively of navy suits and capes. It’s incredible the way she can look both young and old at the same time.
The Blonde, The Limits of Control
In a white wig, white cowboy hat, bright red lips, and bug-eyed sunglasses, Swinton was at her most unrecognizable in this bizarre film from 2009. It was only once she removed her glasses that we could finally see a familiar face.
The White Queen, The Chronicles of Narnia
We have a sneaking suspicion that Swinton loved her look as the White Queen, with her blonde, dread-like curls and icy skin. In a way, it’s the closest look to her off-screen image—platinum hair and barely there makeup.
Karen Crowder, Michael Clayton
Swinton’s Oscar-winning role may have been her most extreme in its normality. She completely disappears into the bland, brunette bob and everywoman business suit.
Photos: Only Lovers Left Alive: Sony Pictures Classics; The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom: American Empirical Pictures; The Limits of Control: Entertainment Farm; The Chronicles of Narnia: Walt Disney Pictures; Michael Clayton: Castle Rock Entertainment