Oscar winner Tilda Swinton has taken comedienne Margaret Cho to task for going public about an exchange the two women had about the Brit’s role in Doctor Strange.
Margaret revealed Tilda reached out to her amid the drama surrounding her casting as a comic book character who was originally an old Tibetan man, and suggested the correspondence did not go well.
During the TigerBelly podcast on Friday, Margaret said Tilda “didn’t understand why people were so mad about Doctor Strange”, adding she wanted to get the comic’s “take on why all the Asian people were mad”.
“(She) was like, ‘Could you please tell them…'” Margaret recalled. “I’m like, ‘B****, I can’t tell them… I don’t have a yellow phone under a cake dome’.”
Hours after the podcast aired, Tilda took issue with the comedienne’s version of events, and released the email correspondence between herself and Margaret via her publicist.
She wrote: “Dear Margaret, We’ve never met, but you’ve been in my head for years – I’m a fan. I want to ask you a favor now which is sprung out of a truly important social conversation but may be heading for some crazy-making s***. The diversity debate – ALL STRENGTH to it – has come knocking at the door of Marvel’s new movie DR STRANGE. I am told that you are aware of this. But since I am that extinct beast that does no social media, I am unaware of what exactly anybody has said about any of it.
“I believe there are some ironies about this particular film being a target, but I’m frankly much more interested in listening than saying anything much. I would really love to hear your thoughts and have a – private – conversation about it. Are you up for this? Can we e-mail? No wrong answer here. Tell me to f*** off if you feel like it. In any and every case, Much love to you,Tilda.”
Margaret responded: “Sure! I’m a big fan of yours… I can tell you from my perspective what’s happening! The character you played in Dr Strange was originally written as a Tibetan man and so there’s a frustrated population of Asian Americans who feel the role should have gone to a person of Asian descent.
“The larger part of the debate has to do with the ‘whitewashing’ of Asian and Asian Americans in film. Our stories are told by white actors over and over again and we feel at a loss to know how to cope with it. Protest seems to be the only solution – we just want more representative images of ourselves in film… hope this helps! We can totally email and we can be private!”
Tilda then replied, defending Marvel’s decision to cast her – a white woman – in the role of a comic book Tibetan elder in “a conscious effort to shake up stereotypes”.
The correspondence between the two women appeared to stay upbeat and positive with Tilda thanking Margaret for her input, stating: “It really helps me sort out the lay of the land”, and adding she would be mindful of casting choices and other decisions as she moved forward with her new film OKJA, which she called “to my knowledge the first ever half Korean/half English speaking film”.
The actress added: “fingers crossed it will be a big deal and help the landscape somewhat… I hope and believe it will.”
Tilda has yet to directly respond to Margaret and the comedienne hasn’t spoken about Tilda going public with their private emails.