Actress Tilda Swinton’s dramatic looks are the basis for an equally dramatic fashion spread in the August issue of W Magazine. She stars in a movie based on Lionel Shrivers’ novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was the talk of the Cannes film festival in May.

The movie is scheduled to open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 2, qualifying it for the Academy Awards.

In an interview that accompanies the photo shoot, Swinton discusses the movie’s “taboo subject: the idea of a less than perfect mother.” She says, ” I knew that, when an audience watched the film, there would be a gag reflex at some point. But I was fascinated by the subject—it scared me, and that interested me.”

Shriver’s book won the Orange Prize in 2006. A movie tie-in will be published on 11/29/11.

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