Tilda Swinton is a dancing queen, though it’s crooner Barry White whom she favors rather than Abba.
The Scottish actress got a crowd of 1,600 attendees last weekend at Ebertfest, the annual film festival thrown by the late film critic Roger Ebert in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., to boogey down in Ebert’s honor to White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.”
Swinton, who has been to Ebertfest before, was there this year to help honor the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, who died April 4, and for a screening of her 2008 crime drama, Julia. Reviewing the film when it opened in 2009, Ebert wrote, “Tilda Swinton is fearless. She’ll take on any role without her ego, paycheck, vanity or career path playing a part. All that matters, apparently, is whether the movie interests her, and whether she thinks she can do something interesting with the role. She almost always can. She hasn’t often been more fascinating than in Julia, a nerve-wracking thriller with a twisty plot and startling realism.”
The star joined Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow, on stage. Chaz said that Swinton had promised to lead the audience in a dance-along similar to ones the actress had taken part in at film festivals in Scotland. Swinton then took over the mike and told the crowd, “We’re coming down to dance with you. Because if we dance up here, you’re just going sit and watch us and laugh. So no observers allowed, participants only.”
Bopping away in time to the music, Swinton went down into the audience to lead a rollicking dance-along. “Dancing with Roger,” she said breathlessly at the end, after leading a conga line of gyrating audience members back onto the stage for a big finish. Chaz Ebert embraced Swinton and told the crowd, “That’s why Roger saw all this energy, talent and goodness in her. And that’s why she’s one of our favorite festival guests.”
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