Tilda Swinton Gets Real About Childbirth & Motherhood

In her latest film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton portrays a parent whose 15-year-old son commits a massacre at his school, giving audiences a stark depiction of motherhood that’s not often seen in Hollywood, much less talked about in society.

For Swinton, as a mom of teenage twins Xavier and Honor, she finds the movie’s honest admission that it is indeed difficult at times to raise a child, rather refreshing, and she makes it a point to pass the message along to new parents.

“I remember very soon after giving birth realizing that my imagination had taken on a kind of brutal capacity that it had never had before,” Swinton told reporters while promoting the movie at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Pregnancy is brutal as it is, but there is something about the experience of childbirth that stretches in every sense your imaginary capacity for brutality.

“And I don’t think you ever go back,” adds Tilda. “There is a sort of innocence you lose. You get sort of blooded, literally. When I read the book, it spoke to that, and I was so grateful.

“I’ve made it my business ever since to say to expectant parents: It’s going to be a nightmare. And it’s going to be wonderful, and you’re never going to regret it, but it’s going to be a nightmare. Amazingly, very few people seem to say this.”

Helping her navigate through that nightmare is Tilda’s husband, Scottish painter John Byrne, 71, and Sandro Kopp, another painter 18 years her junior, whom she’s been seeing since 2004 with Byrne’s blessing.

“I’m very fortunate,” Swinton, 50, says of her non-traditional relationship. “It takes some extraordinary men to make a situation like that work.”

We Need to Talk About Kevin, co-starring John C. Reilly, is based on Lionel Shriver’s best-selling book. The film is already creating a lot of buzz at Cannes, with Swinton a front-runner for the Best Actress prize.

Filed under: Celebrity Moms,Tilda Swinton

Photo credit: Bauer Griffin

  • Erica

    LOVE miss Tilda….such an interesting person, and so beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    What a terrible thing to say to any parent or expectant parent. Parenting is not a NIGHTMARE, it is the most wonderful blessing in the world.

    • klutzy_girl

      Did you miss where she said parenting is also a blessing?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, better to sugar-coat everything so you don’t needlessly give anyone the vapors. Truth is such an awful thing, isn’t it?

    • Janna

      Episiotomy stitches, hemorrhoids, cracked and bleeding nipples, no sleep, your life obsessed with poop, colic, the list goes on and on.

      Let’s face it: She’s spot on!!! It is a nightmare and a blessing, all rolled into one.

  • Gisele


  • haggered

    I’m with Tilda…and what about when they grow up? When they come home from school crying becayuse their best friend says they hate them or someone told them they were stupid. Arrrgh. Or the days they flat out dissapoint you and wonder why you gave up so much for THIS. Its hard work, and its amazing and its the best and the worst and all these extremes can literally be winthin 3 seconds of each other.

    • Tara

      I do not look forward to what you are talking about at all, but am realistic it will be a reality. Although I do think describing it in these terms is usually spur of the moment emotions. I feel the way you do and mine is only TWO! Sounds like you have had a rough week or month. ( at least pray its only been a week;). Hope it improves and that your kids choose to eventually go to college out of state for you;)

  • Anonymous

    I made the comment above that everyone seems to be so irritated by. Of course parenting is hard, but characterizing it as a “nightmare” is just toxic language. We need to find different ways to describe the difficulty of raising children than to say things like that. I didn’t mean that the hard parts of parenting should be sugar-coated, and I certainly don’t do that. It just bothers the hell out of me when people speak of raising kids in such negative terms. It’s not cute, or funny, or healthy for parents or kids.

  • the truth

    finally someone who will admit that raising babies and children can sometimes be downright scary. of course there is good with it too, but I applaud her frankness. she is right on.

  • Anonymous

    Did everyone miss the part about her two partners? Wow.

  • jacquie109

    Sometimes being a parents sucks and you just want to run away. No one can deny that, not in the secrecy of their own mind, if you try you’re just lying to yourself and everyone around you. My child was the model child most of the time and it was still hard and it is still hard. No one should be lead to believe that raising a child is easy. Every decision you make and everything that you do affects them and molds them into the people they will become. It is not easy at all, easy is not having to worry about anyone but yourself. I love her comment. It is dead on, sometimes parenting can be a nightmare. The next time you see a child throwing a tatrum in the store look at the mom and read how she feels, I bet she didn’t ask her kid to start screaming in the middle of grocery shopping, or have to explain to your child why so and so said this at school and what it means, let me know just how easy it is!!!

  • Anonymous

    She does not have two partners. She has ONE! Sandro Kopp is her current partner and John Byrne is her EX. He is another committed relationship and they are all one big happy family in the sense that they are raising two incredible twins together. Not as a weird sexual threesome/foursome. Stop making scandals when there is none.

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