After directing Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing, filmmaker George Miller understood why such auteurs as Wes Anderson and Luca Guadagnino repeatedly call on the versatile actress to be in their films.
“She really is something. She’s an artist and one of the wisest people I’ve ever known,” he told THR at the Cannes Film Festival, where Longing had its world premiere. Miller was eager to cast her in his next film, the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa, starring Anya Taylor-Joy. “It was the first thing I thought about,” Miller said of finding a role for her. But no such luck.
“In Suspiria, she played three roles, one of which is an old man, so I thought, well, she could play one of the men [in Furiosa]. But unfortunately, there was no role that she would fit. If you force a character into a film, it’s usually the first one to end up on the cutting room floor,” said Miller of Swinton, whom he met five years ago during Cannes. “I would never do that to her, but I definitely wanted to make it happen.”
The filmmaker also had high praise for Swinton’s co-star, Idris Elba, in Three Thousand Years of Longing. “I must say, he’s wonderful,” Miller said. “Watching them work together was such a delight for me. It’s one thing to have the characters on the page and in your head, but it’s another to see the actors manifest the characters.”
The MGM and FilmNation release tells the story of a respected narratologist who uncorks a genie, or djinn, after buying a damaged bottle in an Istanbul market. He offers to grant three wishes in exchange for his freedom, only to spark a debate about wish-making while the genie details three stories from past entanglements. Miller adapted the story with Augusta Gore from The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, a collection of short stories published by author A. S. Byatt.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.