Tilda Swinton Is Over COVID Film Set Rules: ‘I Was Told to Wear a Mask at All Times, and I’m Not’

Tilda Swinton is over the pandemic, and she doesn’t care who knows it.

She opened her keynote appearance at South by Southwest by sharing her pleasure that the pandemic had gotten to a point where audience members at the event didn’t have to wear masks anymore.

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Later in the conversation, Swinton said, “I’m about to shoot a picture in Ireland, and I was told to wear a mask at all times, and I’m not.”

“I’m sure this is being recorded,” she noted, before saying that she is “very healthy” after having gone through COVID-19 infections multiple times.

Interestingly, in 2022, Swinton spoke to W Magazine about the severity of one of her infections and the long COVID symptoms she was continuing to endure, including struggles with memory.

Swinton isn’t the only high profile actor to disagree with on-set COVID protocols recently. Fran Drescher spoke to Variety about her position against vaccine mandates, and Woody Harrelson has come out against all COVID-related rules in Hollywood.

Swinton was at SXSW in support of “Problemista,” which she stars in alongside writer-director Julio Torres. Premiering on March 13, the A24 film follows Alejandro (Torres), an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador who struggles to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Swinton) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream.

“I love him. I always loved him,” Swinton said about Torres. “It’s such a thrill to call him comrade. He’s next level. Now he’s a filmmaker, and that’s really good for all of us who are interested in film.”

Something that worries Swinton in the film industry, however, is an attitude of self-centeredness.

“There is a belief that when you make a film, or write a story, that all the focus is on you as an individual. The spotlight is on you,” she said. “One thing that I can attest to, that I am actually a real poster child of, is staying collective. You don’t have to get separated from your kin and your herd.”

This issue is unique to younger people, according to Swinton.

“There is a such a new virus in the air about being an individual, which frankly speaking, people of our generation didn’t have to deal with, because there was there was more respect for and investment in collective action. But now I do feel that there is pressure on fine artists to cut ties, grow big balls and be a narcissist. And that might put a lot of people off.”

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