Tilda Swinton’s favorite co-star to date? Her dog, Louis.
Swinton starred opposite her Springer Spaniel for Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter,” and even considered hiring a dog psychologist to understand Louis’ innate performance.
“He’s the best actor. Let’s be honest about this,” Swinton told RogerEbert.com. “He’s quite extraordinary. He will do anything I asked him to do. And so that’s my hot tip, if you’re going to work with a dog, make sure that there’s a real bond between the animals in front of the camera.”
Swinton continued while in conversation with writer-director Hogg, “There’s a transition, let’s say, which is not a real transition. It’s an image in my mind. But if you remember that moment, he responded, and all I was doing was thinking that that was happening. It’s very interesting. I would like to speak to a dog psychologist about that. How it was that he picked up on that, on the significance of that moment?”
The Oscar winner summed up, “He was extremely happy during the shoot, because he was by himself and he was away from his sister, and he wasn’t in a pack. He got more cuddles than he usually does. So he loved it. I had a friend who sent me a message after the screening in London that just said, ‘Lassie who?’”
Director Hogg added of Louis, “He didn’t want the story to end. He was shaking a bit…There was not much directing involved, I have to say, because it was Tilda’s dog and he will answer her call. So in the scenes where Louis is having to react on his own, Tilda is behind a door or down the corridor talking to him. He’s incredibly sensitive. We were shooting in the order of the story, and Louis really felt the story. He’s my ideal actor, because he really embraced it.”
The “Souvenir” films exclusively use Swinton’s dogs, with Louis’ mother, aunt, and nephew starring.
“In fact, Louis was maybe going to join us on the second ‘Souvenir,’ and I remember saying to Joanna, ‘We have to keep Louis for a solo appearance because he’s got something special,’” Swinton said. “I’ve had the experience of working with a proper professional dog before. I worked with Pedro Almodóvar with a proper, very fancy, superstar dog, who was great. But he wasn’t really that interested in me, he was very interested in the guy behind me with a sausage in his pocket. But Louis is really interested in me.”
Swinton previously told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn that her approach to acting is to be as “least performative” as possible.
“I’m really not interested in acting,” Swinton said. “I’m really trying to find a way to be the least performative. It’s about finding the most relaxed, un-performative that a person can be.”
For “Eternal Daughter” with longtime collaborator Hogg, Swinton added, “It was like a child’s game, which is appropriate since we’ve known each other since we were 10.”
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