Meet 'Tilda Swinton' Star Tom Lenk
6 August 2018
A big hit with critics and audiences, and following sold out runs in Los Angeles and New York, TILDA SWINTON ANSWERS AN AD ON CRAIGSLIST makes its eagerly-awaited International Premiere at Edinburgh Fringe, starring actor and Instagram sensation Tom Lenk (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Rock of Ages on Broadway) as Tilda Swinton. In TILDA SWINTON ANSWERS AN AD ON CRAIGSLIST, a gay man’s life implodes when his “roommate wanted” ad on Craigslist is answered by actress Tilda Swinton, who insists on studying and dissecting his life to research her next big movie role. "Hilarious, clever, uplifting... Highly recommend," says actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. "Brilliant tour de force," hails Broadway World LA. And "Tom Lenk is transcendent," says Broadway World NY. Here's a chat with TILDA star Tom Lenk:
1. What's it like to play icon Tilda Swinton?
I can't put into words how much I love playing Tilda. This may be the most fun I've had performing whilst clad in bubble wrap.
TBH, I'm not an impressionist and I'm quite lazy so at the initial table read I was just kind of faking it and going from what I can remember of the movies I've seen her in. Because, what does Tilda actually sound or act like in real life? Because of her "transformative" performances, we rarely see the "real her" so once we started rehearsing I watched movie clips and some interviews online with her (there's a fascinating one where she and B. Cumberbatch answer questions written on Jenga pieces while "playing the game" which I might add, they missed the whole point of the game, because they placed the little wooden logs on the table after sliding them out, instead placing them back on top of the stack.)
I love the balance of masculine/feminine and posh/riffraff to my version of Tilda so I looked to Jennifer Saunders/Edwina Monsoon and Joanna Lumley/Patsy Stone for some inspiration in that arena. And since I can quote Mary Poppins start to finish, there's a lot of MP/Julie Andrews in there as well!
That being said, I'm not an impressionist so my version of Tilda is VERY HER, but also NOTHING LIKE HER AT ALL? If that makes sense? So my lack of thorough research is filled in by my imagination which TBH, is the most fun part.
2. Has making fashion from garbage on Instagram helped you with the Tilda role?
Well, I did in fact create Tilda's cape/gown and purse as I thought it should be something FASHUN forward and avant-garde similar to Tilda's many out of the box red carpet and editorial LEWKS. I mean am a low price hi FASHUN icon. How could I not create the Tilda LEWK?
The #LenkLewkForLess definitely keep my creative juices flowing. I think we're all under such pressure to write/film/create something that's incredibly polished and thoughtfully crafted...you know the "curated," "artisnal" lifestyle that's so popular on Instagram has crept into everything - so it's very liberating to put creative stuff out there on an almost daily basis that's far from perfect...on purpose. What's the quote? Better done than perfect? Or something like that? I'm not sure our version of Tilda would agree with me though, as one of her lines in the show is "Nothing's perfect, except for me. I have a certificate." But I'm not about certificates anyway...unless it's like a gift card? Starbucks maybe? I am a Maxxinista so TJ Maxx gift card would be cool.
3. Who or what inspired you to become performers?
Partially Pee Wee Herman AKA Paul Reubens but mostly my own need to get attention on my terms as an awkward youth.
4. How did you come to be in this show?
Byron asked me to read the script last year and I of course took way too long getting around to reading it (Sorry Byron, I'm the worst) and once I started reading it I stopped on page 3 and emailed him back and said the above quote and I'm in and YES let's do a table read with some friends and then after that I was like you just have to do this. And then my friends at the Celebration Theater had some space open up and we hit them up and it just WERKED OUT!
5. What has been the best part about working with your castmates & what is the most challenging part?
Working together has felt more like hanging out and playing pretend with 4 of your friends so I have loved every minute of it. It is SO MUCH fun! Did I say that already? and the most challenging part honestly was figuring out how to give myself a blowout after I bleached my hair for the role. Bleached hair is very delicate and tempermental. I, however, am not. Well, I am delicate. And slightly tempermental, but like...only when I get really hungry.
6. Was there ever a time when your life was flipped upside down? If so, what happened & how did you get everything turned back around?
About 13 years ago after a break up I couldn't seem to shake and I called SAG pension and health and basically said "Hey it's me Tom and I need a referral for a therapist that I can talk about my gay stuff with" and I went to see him 2 days later and I've been going once a week since ever since, and I truly appreciate having the time with him once a week to work through issues, get creative, gossip, laugh, cry, learn...I love it! We have like net gross of 23 years of therapy between us Byron. I'm so proud of us and our personal growth.
7. If we were to dissect your life, what would be the most heart-warming & breaking?
Answer to both: My relationship with my pets throughout my life. I have a solo-comedy show where I tell all the hilarious/devastating stories of how pets came in and out of my life growing up...like 30 different pets...I know it's kind of crazy. It's called "Heavy Petting" and I know that sounds like a really cheesy one man show but it is ridiculous and so much fun to do.
8. Who do you consider to be effusive and other-worldly actress (besides Tilda Swintonwho...haha)?
My pal Kirsten Vangsnesss of CBS' hit drama Criminal Minds. Seeing her perform on stage is mind blowing and very inspiring. She performs original works that she writes and I could just never imagine any of the things she comes up with so I love her for that! And she is fearless and vulnerable and a reminder to me to always be creative.
9. Tom, What is one or two fun behind the scene stories you can share with us about your time on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"?
The first time I went to a fan convention for the show, I was in Belfast, Northern Ireland with my on camera cohorts, Danny Strong and Adam Busch and we were walking around the outdoor mall in the middle of town and groups of girls started following us around. For a very brief moment in time we felt like the Beatles. And then the next day we were the cover story of the newspaper which is shocking that nothing of importance was happening that day so I guess we got the spot! It was so much fun to travel the world with them meeting fans and going on morning talk shows with them and then go back home and continue to work on the series. Ah the memories! 10 heart emojis!