There's always something admirable about performers who take the road less traveled, and Tilda Swinton didn't merely veer off of the conventional path en route to stardom, she forged her own. After starting her career as the muse of late director and artist Derek Jarman, Swinton gained international recognition as the star of the 1992 gender-bending drama Orlando, and then went on to play in a string of films that provided her with rewarding challenges that earned her a reputation as a peerless chameleon and all-around performer of unpredictable roles.

Her new film is I Am Love, a collaboration with filmmaker and longtime friend Luca Guadagnino, where she plays the mother in an upper-crust Italian family who unexpectedly succumbs to a torrid affair with one of her son's young friends. Cinematical recently was lucky enough to speak with Swinton at the film's Los Angeles press day, where in addition to offering background information on the film itself, she provided some insight into how she finds entry into the characters she plays, and reflected on a career path that has been anything but conventional.