Tilda Swinton Answers an ad on Craigslist is the comedy play that tells us what happens when the Oscar-winning Scottish actress, swoops into a young gay man’s life, Mary Poppins style, to be become his flatmate. The play has already wowed audiences in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe and stars Buffy favourite Tom Lenk. Dave Cross had a catch up with Tom to discuss, Tilda, Buffy and his love of UK crime drama.
Hi Tom, how did you end up playing Tilda Swinton on stage?
My friend Byron Lane, who wrote it and is also in it, gave me the script and asked what I thought. I loved it straight away and I could see all these Mary Poppins references, she arrives just when the young gay guy, Walt needs help and I started to get really excited. And then once we started another friend of mine said to me, ‘oh yes and that character’s called, Walt… like Walt Disney’… and I hadn’t even realised, I was like, Wooooah!
So how do you prepare to play Tilda Swindon?
Well Dave, because I’m such a dedicated actor, I got all of her films to watch, and then because I’m basically lazy I only watched half of them. Actually because she so different in all her roles, the films weren’t really that much help, so I mainly watched a load of interviews with her on You Tube.
And how do you play her?
It’s just occurred to me over Christmas, where part of my inspiration came from on how to play her. I’m a real box set person, I get totally absorbed into things, and over the holidays I was watching a lot, I mean a huge amount of UK Crime Drama, oh my god I love them, the Bodyguard, Killing Eve, everything… but, I was breaking them up by watching Absolutely Fabulous from the very start, every episode, and I suddenly realised that my version of Tilda Swindon does have a bit of Patsy in her. Tilda and Joanna Lumley both have a similar gorgeous beauty.
Have you ever met Tilda Swinton?
No, no I haven’t. I did met someone who knows her, they came to one of the shows, I was super nervous, knowing they were there. It was all fine and we talked for ages afterwards about her, so I believe she knows about the show.
I have to ask you about Buffy, your character, Andrew started as one of a trio of ‘arch nemesis’ but ended up in the show until the final episode and he became a real fan favourite, was that indented from the start?
No not at all, we were only supposed to be in Season Six. I think now on a show like Game of Thrones the character arcs are plotted way in advance, but back then, certainly on Buffy, things would change and develop almost week by week.
You had some lovely moments with Emma Caulfield as Anya…
Yes absolutely and a lot of that came about from the fun and laughter that Emma and I had on set, she’s amazing.
The question of Andrew’s sexuality was never confirmed on the show, but it was strongly suggested that he was gay, and a lot of young LGBT people responded to him…
That was something else that developed, I think after they had cast me, it sort of led them in that way. I liked the way they did it, it was pretty clear to anyone gay that he was too, his lingering looks at Zander and Spike were pretty obvious, plus of course the show had already had gay characters in a proper relationship with Willow and Tara which was groundbreaking.
Is it still difficult for out LGBT actors to get parts?
There has been some progress, but here’s the thing, here’s what happens; as an out gay actor I get offered auditions for gay parts, and there are more now, but never really for straight parts, whereas straight actors get auctions for both straight and gay, so we still have a long way to go.
Finally, are you looking forward to being in London for the play?
Oh my god yes! I just love London. I would love to live there, and OK Dave, I’m just going to put this out there into the Universe. My total dream would be to get a part on a UK crime drama… I mean I’m totally serious, if there’s someone out there, here I am. Plus please can I ask all Boyz readers to follow me on instagram and Twitter…And, of course I want everyone reading this, to come and see the Tilda play, it’s crazy and great fun.