Chronicles of Narnia, The: Tilda Swinton

I have been a fan of Tilda ever since I saw her in “Orlando.”
–Director Andrew Adamson

The greatest villain in Narnia is Jadis, the seemingly invincible White Witch, who has cursed the one-time paradise to endure an eternal winter. To play the nefarious role, the filmmakers chose Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, one of the mainstays of European cinema. Swinton’s pale complexion and ethereal beauty added dramatic dimension to the imposing creature she plays in the films.

On the Tale’s Enchantment

I fell in love with Narnia as those who had first encountered it in childhood. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” began to remind me of great family films that I grew up with, like “The Railway Children” and “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s a classic story in that it has an old-fashioned quality, but at the same time, it feels entirely modern.

The Book

Unlike most of my cast-mates, I came to the story completely fresh. I’m one of the few people who were brought up in the UK who didn’t read any of the Narnia books as a child. So I came to them entirely because Andrew Adamson who asked me to be in this film.

The Book as Acid Test

I read the stories to my six-year-old children. They were the acid test. When they thought it was a good idea, I began to take the idea of the film seriously.

The Epitome of Evil

Of course, it’s a tall order to play the epitome of all evil. I just might have children backing away from me for the rest of my life!

Emotionless Character

Jadis is not human, you have to remember. She has no feelings about anything. She’s not really comprehensible on any normal level. She has created Narnia as a reflection of her own state of mind, freezing it into perpetual winter-no spring, no Christmas, no progress, no good, a pretty joyless place, until these children begin to turn it around.

The Witch’s Look

I was closely involved in creating the look of the White Witch, which is integral to her character. We agreed that she should look modern and quite attractive in her own way. I thought about my favorite fantasy beauties like the Good Witch in “The Wizard of Oz,”

Avoiding Cliches

We played away from the clichf a villainess. I didn’t want to have any of the standards, like black hair, red lips, or black eyeliner.

The Costume as Barometer

The idea we worked on with the costume was that it would be like a mood thermometer that it would morph with her mood. She never changes dresses but the dress itself changes shape and color according to how things are going for her. When she’s at home in her ice castle, it puffs out like a ball gown, and when things are getting a little bleaker, the dress gets tighter and darker. And when things get really dark for her in the story, it goes completely black.

Seven Gowns

In designing the gowns, replete with handmade lace, costume designer Isis Mussenden envisioned seven different gown changes for me to physically represent my diminishing powers. As spring takes hold of Narnia, it melts away the frost and drains away my powerful hold on the frozen landscape.