And the 50-year-old executes it with aplomb in the August edition of W magazine, where she evokes the spirit of David Bowie's 1976 performance in cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Bowie, 64, plays a humanoid alien searching for water in the Nicholas Roeg directed classic, and is Swinton's doppelganger with razor sharp cheekbones and a strikingly androgynous beauty.
Swinton posed for the stunning shoot to accompany an interview about her new film, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Otherworldly: Tilda Swinton looks astonishing in the August edition of W magazine
But despite what the photo narrative might suggest, it's not a sci-fi thriller, but rather the story of a mother coming to terms with the 'evil' of her son, after he murders seven of his classmates and his English teacher.
Swinton and W are using the alien theme as a metaphor for how a mother feels to never bond with her child, who in the movie - based on the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name - is a psychopath.
Shot in a futuristic Icelandic landscape by photographer Tim Walker, Swinton, whose father was the lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, poses in masculine and military inspired clothes, with cropped hair or a completely bald head.
In the interview, the mother-of-two opened up about playing the role of mother to a violent, disturbed child: 'It’s every pregnant woman’s nightmare to give birth to the devil. And every mother worries that she won’t connect to her children... When I first saw [my] twins, I really liked them. And, at the same time, there was a ghost over my shoulder saying, What if I hadn’t liked them?'
Spitting Image: David Bowie in the 1976 film
Handsome: Swinton said she never wanted to be pretty
'I would rather be handsome, as he is, for an hour than pretty for a week.'
The Academy winner also spoke about bagging Best Supporting Actress in 2007, she admitted: 'Yes, that was lovely, but I have to admit that I’d never seen the Oscars on television and really had no idea that it was so important. It was a very long show, but it did move me up from the children’s table, professionally, in Hollywood.'
She added: 'After winning, I went straight to Milan and started I Am Love. Since then, I haven’t done another Hollywood film... When I brought my Oscar home and showed the children, nobody knew what it was.”
Directed by Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, with John C Reilly as the naive husband and 18-year-old Ezra Miller as the murderous son, the film is tipped to huge when it's released in the UK in October, though a US release date has yet to be set.
Uniform: Swinton's style has been inspired by her military background
Miss Swinton has teenage twins Xavier and Honor with her former partner, playwright and artist John Byrne.
She met her current lover, German artist Sandro Kopp, who is 17 years her junior, on the set of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
Miss Swinton starred as the White Witch and Kopp was an extra. When discussing Kopp and Byrne in a 2008 interview, Miss Swinton said: ‘We are all a family.’
Gender Roles: Swinton blurs these like David Bowie