Before Olivia Wilde was a first-time feature director or the star of innumerable projects that she was told would make her the Next Big Thing, she was one more Hollywood newcomer looking for guidance. It was in this unsettled period when Wilde, then around 20, spotted Tilda Swinton at a Golden Globes party, sidled up to her ethereal, chameleonic heroine and awkwardly asked for advice.

If Wilde expected Hollywood to be an "All About Eve"-style combat zone where ingénues were worshipped and maturity was something to be feared, Swinton's counsel threw her for a loop. She told Wilde that with