Tilda Swinton Stole My Boyfriend for Her Menage a Trois; (1) 'FAITHLESS BEHAVIOUR': Sandro Kopp with His Former Girlfriend Emma Williamson, Who He Dumped by Email after He Met Tilda (2) SANE' ARRANGEMENT: John Byrne and a Portrait of Tilda Swinton by Sandro Kopp. Left, Tilda at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Tilda Swinton Stole My Boyfriend for Her Menage a Trois; (1) 'FAITHLESS BEHAVIOUR': Sandro Kopp with His Former Girlfriend Emma Williamson, Who He Dumped by Email after He Met Tilda (2) SANE' ARRANGEMENT: John Byrne and a Portrait of Tilda Swinton by Sandro Kopp. Left, Tilda at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival


Byline: Steve D'Antal, Amanda Perthen

EVEN in the context of a life spent flouting convention, it is arelationship that has left observers bemused. Actress Tilda Swinton has alwaysbeen something of an oddity. In the roles that she has chosen and the lookswith which she was born, she has never been anything less than remarkable.

And when she accepted a Bafta for Best Supporting Actress last weekend, herdecision to do so in the company of her young lover, Sandro Kopp, rather thanon the arm of John Byrne, her partner of 18 years and father of herten-year-old twins, was always likely to raise eyebrows.

But what really rattled teacups was the fact that all three claimed to beperfectly happy with this thoroughly bohemian menage.

Days after receiving her Bafta for her role in the legal thriller MichaelClayton, 47-year-old Tilda, Sandro, 29, and the twins - who had travelled withtheir mother - returned to the family home in north-east Scotland where Byrnewelcomed them warmly and helped unload their luggage.

'We are all the best of pals,' said Tilda. Sandro and Tilda travel the world,John, 67, keeps the home fires burning. It works, they explained, and everybodyis happy.

Well, that's the way they tell it.

Several thousand miles and one broken heart away there is one, overlooked,character in this little domestic drama, who paints a rather different picture.She is Emma Williamson, the 26-year-old teacher with whom painter-turned-actorSandro shared his life until he met Tilda on the set of The Chronicles OfNarnia (Sandro was a speechless, nameless centaur, Tilda was the evil WhiteWitch)..

Today, speaking for the first time, Emma tells a more conventional story oflove and betrayal. She reveals how Germanborn Sandro took up with Tilda in 2004and ended their own four-year relationship with an email sent from the Narniaset.

Now living and working in Korea, Emma says: 'I was really missing Sandro so Irang him. When I got through his voice was very distant and he asked whether Ihad got the email he had just sent me.

I hadn't and it turned out it was basically breaking up with me. I thought itwas pretty shoddy after four years together.

'I asked him what was going on and he just said he had fallen in love withanother woman. I said, "Are you sleeping with her?" And he said, "Yes." Then Iasked who it was and he said it didn't matter. But when I said, "Is it TildaSwinton?" he admitted it.

'That was like a big knife going through my heart. We spoke for about an hourbut I just remember crying and crying and crying.' Emma had called Sandro fromEgypt, where she was holidaying with her sister while her then boyfriend waspursuing his acting ambitions in New Zealand - the location for the epic Narniafilms.

Emma recalls: 'It was awful. I was on my knees on the banks of the Nile,sobbing, with my sister holding me. At least he could have ended it with me,even on the phone, before he cheated with her.' DURING the weeks after Emma'sdevastating discovery she learned that Sandro and Tilda's affair had beguntowards the end of the filming.

She explains: 'I found out that they were in the south island of New Zealandtogether. They had kept it very quiet.

Even friends of mine who worked on the film had no idea.

'They snuck off together after filming stopped for a week, travelling inSandro's old Mitsubishi van with the seats taken out and a double bed in theback.

It was the van he and I had done so many journeys around the country in.

'Sandro had told Tilda about me. She was aware he had a girlfriend. But myimpression is that at that stage her husband didn't know, and certainly thechildren didn't.' In fact, Emma says after he confessed, Sandro asked her notto speak about the illicit romance: 'He didn't want to upset Tilda's career. Hewas cheating on me and all he wanted was to protect her and her youngchildren. …

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Tilda Swinton Stole My Boyfriend for Her Menage a Trois; (1) 'FAITHLESS BEHAVIOUR': Sandro Kopp with His Former Girlfriend Emma Williamson, Who He Dumped by Email after He Met Tilda (2) SANE' ARRANGEMENT: John Byrne and a Portrait of Tilda Swinton by Sandro Kopp. Left, Tilda at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival
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