Tilda Swinton: “When I was four or five, I tried to kill my own brother”


Tilda Swinton’s publicity tour for We Need To Talk About Kevin is getting more and more uncomfortable. It’s not that I dislike The Swinton – I adore her. She’s lovely and brilliant and amazing. She’s an alien and she’s gathering information on us, and that’s fine. But her alien-brain doesn’t process information and concepts the same way a normal human brain does. Thus, Tilda grows more and more uncomfortably DIRECT when she’s discussing the subject matter of her latest film. The subject matter? Psychopath children, murder, blood, gore and motherhood. Just last week, she confessed that ALL moms fear that their children could end up monsters – which many of you debated. Now Tilda has added another layer to the nature-versus-nurture debate: As a child, she wanted to kill her younger brother. Oh, Tilda.

Was Tilda Swinton a bad seed? The Oscar-winning actress, 50, reveals a deep, very dark childhood secret: She nearly murdered her youngest brother as a child.

The We Need to About Kevin star told the shocking story to England’s The Telegraph magazine.

Recalling the brutal 1993 murder of 2-year-old British boy James Bulger, Swinton said: “Years ago, when James Bulger was murdered, every newspaper front page was talking about evil. At that point, having suppressed it for years, I remembered when I was four or five, I tried to kill my own brother.”

Explained the British star: “He was newly born and I was disappointed, because he was the third boy. That was enough as far as I was concerned.”

But, thankfully, the Michael Clayton actress had a change of heart when visiting her baby brother’s nursery.

“I went into his room to kill him, saw some ribbons from a bonnet going into his mouth, and began to pull them out,” Swinton recalled. “And I was discovered saving his life. So I had this strange reputation – my brother’s savior – and no one knew I wanted to kill him. It took the Bulger case for me to remember that I’d seriously wanted to.”

Partners since 2004, Swinton and Scottish painter John Byrne are parents to 13-year-old twins, son Xavier and daughter Honor.

The topic of child evil has been on Swinton’s mind as she promotes new flick We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which she plays the mother of a boy who commits mass murder.

“It’s everybody’s nightmare that, when they’re pregnant, they’re going to give birth to the devil,” she has said. “That when they bring up children, especially a boy, they’re going to give birth to this violence.”

[From Us Weekly]

Here’s my take on it: in the hands of a George Clooney, or a Sandra Bullock, this story would seem like a cute tale of sibling rivalry. When Tilda tells it, it becomes totally creepy, like one of Stephen King’s nightmares or something. If you really examine it, Tilda didn’t actually TRY to kill her brother, she only thought about it. There’s no law against thinking about it, and there are more people who think about it than actually do it. I’ll raise my hand and admit that I’ve been so pissed off at someone before, I’ve entertained thoughts of murder. I always get stuck at what I would do with the body, though. That, and creating a false alibi for myself. Yeah, I watch too many crime shows.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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61 Responses to “Tilda Swinton: “When I was four or five, I tried to kill my own brother””

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  1. jay says:

    I agree. I can imagine little alien eyed Tilda swooping into her brother’s room on some atmospheric night and just watching him……..so it comes off creepy (but in the way that I love)

  2. Kimbob says:

    God Almighty….that woman is brutally honest…I’ll give her that! Before I “clicked on” this story, I read the headline, and thought to myself…this doesn’t surprise me.

    **Chills running up and down me**

  3. Happy21 says:

    I find it kind of creepy but at the same time don’t. Kids feel odd towards siblings. A friend of mine, her 2 1/2 year old daughter put her baby brother, when he was about 4 months old in the garbage. Serious. She took him and put him outside in the big metal garbage can. Obviously, his absense was noticed within minutes and his cries were heard once the back door was opened but he was there. Could have ended up awfully but thankfully didn’t. They are now 7 and 5 and are completely normal siblings.

  4. ami lee says:

    who hasn’t entertained the thoughts of killing a sibling or two? jesus christ, it’s not creepy, it’s just brutally honest. quite refreshing, really.

  5. serena says:

    Oh come on, who hasn’t really thought or tried to kill his own brother/sister?

  6. Ari says:

    I almost killed my sister once. I can relate lol

  7. RocketMerry says:

    As unreal as it sounds, it’s normal for a big sister or brother to feel the need to eliminate the source of their discomfort in a brutal way. It happens frequently, as children do not realize the full consequences of their actions.
    So I’m not really shocked, more of intrigued by her way of telling it.

  8. Quest says:

    I myself thought of killing my brother but not literally, however actually trying to kill a sibling is another thing (*o*)

  9. sasa says:

    It’s honest and quite common. I don’t see the big deal.

  10. Beth says:

    I think if you were to anonymously poll older siblings, you’d find a high percentage of them seriously considered and often attempted “offing” a younger sibling. I know my own sibling tried for years!

  11. Kathy says:

    If the headline had read “Tilda Swinton: “When I was four or five, I killed my own brother and got away with it”” I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

    And yeah, she is so cool. I really like her a lot.

  12. I’m thinking that Thanksgiving dinner might be ummm…a little bit awkward this year?

  13. Kimbob says:

    By the way, I’m an only child, so I’m going to have to take it on faith by what I’m reading about the thoughts/feelings to kill a sibling. By reading some of the bloggers, this is obvious…and I appreciate the honesty.

    And yes, Kaiser….I’ve thought exactly as you’ve stated. I think it’s human nature. I think it’s normal, as long as we don’t act upon it.

  14. Lindy says:

    Eh, what 4 or 5 year old hasn’t thought about sending that new baby brother or sister back where it came from? I know *I* did–totally normal. I love her.

  15. Blue says:

    Well when I was about 4 I pushed my 2 y/o brother down a rocky hill. He wasn’t hurt too badly. Thinking or attempting to off your sibling is normal for little kids because they get jealous and they don’t know any better or know that death is permanent. If you’re still making attempts later in life then there’s a serious problem.

  16. Embee says:

    I’m pretty sure my older sister has spent much of her adolescent and adult life wishing she had killed me. Meh.

  17. DesertRose says:

    My sister tried killing me several times. Not holding a pillow over my face or anything, but things like telling me it was fine to jump from 25 feet into three feet of water or putting me in the family station wagon and putting it in neutral and waving as a headed down the hill. And not that it killed me, but her and her friends making me puff a doobie and sip whiskey when I was 7. Good times. I’m so glad we’re both over 30 and friends now lol
    Tilda is awesome, even if she’s like my crazy sister =)

  18. Turtle Dove says:

    Honestly thought that my brother would try to “off” my 6 year old self many times. He was 10, a hunter, fisherman and diver. The tools and skills were present to complete the job. (gulp)

  19. Lynne says:

    I tried to kill my little brother… good times were had by all.

  20. Callumna says:

    Okay, I didn’t think it was normal to expect to spawn the devil.

    But I’ll bet everyone fears something, it’s just what you fear that tells you a lot about that person, rather than “everyone.”

  21. Roma says:

    I was adopted and before they picked me up, my parents and brother stopped at a store to pick up diapers, formula and a football for my bro. So to my 2.5 year old brother, they obviously bought me from the store.

    As the story goes we were shopping and my brother (now 4) took my stroller and hid me in the department store; he thought he would “return” me as I seemed broken.

  22. Cheyenne says:

    Oh hell, I can remember times when I was a teenager when I wanted to kill my mom. And the feeling was most likely mutual. As someone said upthread, there is a big difference between holding such feelings and acting on them.

    That said, Swinton totally creeps me out. “Every mother fears she’s going to give birth to a devil”? Sorry, but that thought never occurred to me when I was pregnant. And the asexual androgyne look does nothing for me at all. But whatever floats your boat.

  23. smh says:

    she fit the image of the psychopathic angel perfectly.

  24. Joe's Mom says:

    Gee Kaiser. I applaud you for being brutally honest. You don’t know, you might have totally freed somebody up out here, who was feeling those feelings, and feeling shame and guilt over it, hating themselves, and not realizing that it’s human nature, at times, to get that angry. It’s OK as long as you don’t act on it! Maybe I watch too many crime shows too. However, I remember my pediatrician telling me once that HE even felt like “throwing the baby out the window” at times, but he said “we don’t act upon it”. To me, that was such a relief!!! I realized “normal” people felt that at times, and it was OK, as long as you didn’t act on it. And believe me, I didn’t even lay a finger on my kids, but just feeling any animosity toward my babies at times when I was burned out, etc., made me hate myself and feel “bad”. I remember the case of James Bulger. That STILL makes me sick and sad. I still watch for little kids that are being bullied by older kids, thinking it might be the same situation happening, and I would definitely intervene, even if I made a fool of myself.. As far as Swinton . . . the “monster kids story” a few days ago creeped me out. This one definitely sends up a red flag. I don’t know what to think about her. I can’t believe she’s got kids, too!

  25. kieslwoski says:

    I love this woman, thank you so much for writing about her. She is brilliant and totally unique. Hope she gets some OScar love come this season.

  26. Cheyenne#23** Second paragraph(Agree) The biggest fear that has occurred to me is: Am I going to be able to get off my horse and make it to the bathroom before I wee my britches…

  27. F5 says:

    I hope she’s in therapy..that just grossed me out..
    how come the biggest psychos become stars..? -_-

  28. Riana says:

    That’s actually not that creepy/abnormal. My brothers are only 4 and seeing the way they can so viciously and wholeheartedly fight (seriously play a clip of young boys next to lions fighting, same consuming animalistic “I’m going to rip this person to shreds” passion) I imagine one or both just want the other to bounce at any given time.

    I think kids are just built to want to remove a problem that’s annoying them, even if that problems a smaller person.

    Luckilly we all grow up and laugh about it later.

  29. ZenB!tch says:

    wanting to kill your baby sibling seems more normal than worrying you are carrying the demon seed. children don’t really understand the concept of killing, they just want this horrible interloper to go away for whatever reason. it not being a girl is as good a reason as any, being outnumbered doesn’t sound fun.

  30. JaneWonderfalls says:

    I just going to say this. Does anyone else thinks she looks bleeping weird and pychotic?

  31. Mary says:

    I always thought one brother was to many.

  32. danielle says:

    I agree that little kids really don’t get the permanance of their actions- doesn’t seem that odd to me.

  33. ZenB!tch says:

    @JaneWonderfalls I think she probably has some kind of chemical imbalance/low grade mental problems. As I said in the other thread about her worrying she would give birth to the devil. No that is not normal but I worry I would give birth to the Elephant baby also not normal. I have an Anxiety Disorder that requires meds. I’m normal other than things that would not freak out or worry a normal person cause panic attacks. She is likely off-kilter in some way as well – not sure if in my way but could be. On the flipside she may just be very artistic.

  34. Eleonor says:

    All this has rememberd me that my older sister wanted to put me in the washing machine…

  35. Barbara says:

    I tried to end my brothers life with a hammer, but my mom caught me. He was a new born, I was under 2 and dragged a chair to his crib and climbed up to do the deed. I have no memory of this, but it was brought up many times in my life by my mother.

  36. Chris says:

    Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.’ – Jedi Master Yoda.

  37. Deven says:

    What simple-minded blather over something completely normal.

  38. Lisa says:

    Reason #345 of why I think Tilda is the “cat’s pajamas”!

  39. Adilys says:

    All this talk about little kids trying to kill their younger sibling is creepy and disturbing. I have a younger brother and never for a second ever had any thought like that.

    I didn’t know this was common and don’t find it amusing at all.

  40. carrie says:

    me too! Tilda! Mee too! he always tried to kill my dolls!

  41. whateveryouwantittobe says:

    Meh, no love lost here. In fact I might have to add her to my dream dinner party dead or alive guest list. You know she’d be up for some kinky debauchery after, not that I’m into that.. but I could be… for Tilda.

  42. Cheyenne says:

    @#32: I wouldn’t say “psychotic”, but she looks weird as hell.

  43. Ashley says:

    I almost killed my little bro when I was eight or so. We were fighting, and I got so mad that I held a pillow over his face. I didn’t have a concrete thought of “I want him to die”…more along the lines of “I want him to shut up”. And I don’t think I grasped how long it does/doesn’t take someone to suffocate. I figured I’d let up when he surrendered.

    Thankfully, after a minute or so, the silence concerned our parents. Needless to say, I got a good whooping and a serious talking-to. As such, I never attempted to seriously harm him again. He later evened the score by chasing me with a knife when we were in our teens. However, we’re the best of buds now that we’re sane and rational adults!

  44. womanfromthenorth says:

    I was hung at 3,tricked into a chest freezer at 5 and told when I got older the Big Sister had hit me on the head the day I came home from the hosp. while she repeatedly chanted “KILL BABY KILL BABY” I am lucky I have only one sib…. and I love her now… well most of the time

  45. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    Like @kimbob, I’m an only child. However, my nasty boozehound MIL frequently recounts how my SIL tried to kill my husband 3 times. First, by pushing his bouncy seat off of the dining room table when she was 1 and he was a newborn. Second, with a baseball bat to the head when she was 3 and he was 2. Third with a loose brick from their apartment rooftop when she was 4 and he was 3. Apparently she told him to wait on the ground while she went up to the roof of the two-story building. Once on the roof she hit him in the head. He got a couple of stitches where it grazed the back of his head. My MIL tells anyone who will listen, as she thinks this makes a case for the mental illness diagnosis she assigned my SIL. I’ll be happy to inform my SIL that she isn’t psychotic, and her actions were “normal.”

  46. chainsawbuzzkill says:

    I believe this. I also believe Tilda Swinton is her own brother.

  47. DarkEmpress says:

    I don’t think we can consider kids wanting to hurt a sibling seriously. They do not understand the concept of death.

    It’s really strange to have anxiety about your unborn child becoming a monster, maybe once they are teenagers that could be considered a ‘normal’ fear.

  48. Adrien says:

    Her little brother survived and went on to become a successful late night show host in America.

  49. Isa says:

    I tried to kill my older sister with a pair of scissors. My brother and I are closer in age and have had some knock down drag out fights. I pushed him down stairs once. I don’t remember wanting anyone to die, I was just mad and wanted them to hurt.

    I really worried about how my 3 year old would react to my new baby. She never seemed happy when I talked to her about my pregnancy but she must’ve not understood because she’s been great so far. She tries to be TOO helpful and I’ve caught her picking him up three times. She also got in the diaper bag and made him a bottle of water. I caught her force feeding him. I feel like I can’t even turn my back to do the dishes!

  50. mel jay says:

    so, KStew got some serious slack when she blames her teachers when she misses her classes during the same age as Ms Swinton & everybody’s fine with Ms Swinton trying to kill her brother ??? Seriously, did I miss something here?

  51. Tara says:

    Yeah, you missed the fact that she didn’t actually try to kill her brother.

  52. Auds says:

    Why am I not surprised by her statement?
    It’s not like she leads a conventional life. Her children have had to -at a young age – integrate their mother’s lifestyle choices [dividing her time between their father and her younger lover - she is in an open relationship].
    To me she seems a little narcissistic.

  53. Shawna says:

    People grow up and learn from their mistakes. She is probably a nice person, but I have to say that just looking at her scares the living daylights out of me. I keep thinking of that fake “Alien Autopsy” picture when I look at her. I think its the hair. Short hair does not flatter her face. At all. She needs to grow her hair longer I think.

  54. Grace says:

    I have 3 younger siblings and I never considered murdering any of them, not once. Does that make me weird?

  55. Ally says:

    The black/brown eyes and blonde hair are wicked. Is she a natural blonde?

  56. Sway says:

    Um, no, she didn’t just think about it – did you skip over the “I went into his room to kill him” part ?
    Not ‘I was thinking about going into his room to kill him’, but ‘I WENT into his room to kill him’. She actually went there to do it and only didn’t because of some strange circumstance.