“I was told to always wear a mask and I don’t”

Tilda Swinton weathered the pandemic, and she doesn’t care who knows.

She opened her keynote appearance at South by Southwest by sharing her joy that the pandemic had reached a point where viewers at the event were no longer required to wear masks.

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Later in the conversation, Swinton said: “I’m about to shoot a picture in Ireland and I’ve been told to wear a mask at all times, but I don’t.”

“I’m sure this will be recorded,” she noted, before saying she is “very healthy” after going through multiple COVID-19 infections.

Interestingly, in 2022, Swinton spoke to W Magazine about the severity of one of her infections and the lengthy COVID symptoms she continued to suffer, including struggles with memory.

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

Swinton was at SXSW in support of “Problemista,” in which she stars alongside writer-director Julio Torres. The A24 film, which premieres March 13, follows Alejandro (Torres), an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador who struggles to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As his work visa expires, a job as an assistant to an unpredictable art-world outcast (Swinton) becomes his only hope of staying in the country and pursuing his dream.

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

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

“There’s a belief that when you’re making a film or writing a story, the whole focus is on you as an individual. The spotlight is on you,” she said. “One thing I can attest to, and actually am a real poster child for, is staying collective. You don’t have to part with your relatives and your flock.”

This problem only affects younger people, according to Swinton.

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

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