Tilda Swinton Cast As Female Lead of HBO’s Parasite Series: EXCLUSIVE

Longtime Bong Joon-ho collaborator Tilda Swinton is being cast as the female lead of his HBO Parasite miniseries, The Illuminerdi has learned.
tilda swinton in okja

Anyone who’s part of the #BongHive knows that director Bong Joon-ho is a big fan of Tilda Swinton, as she’s previously worked with him on masterpieces like Snowpiercer and Okja. It looks like he hopes to collaborate with her once more, this time on the English-language version of Parasite.

The six-part HBO miniseries, which is currently being produced in conjunction with South Korea’s CJ Entertainment, has been the talk of the town long before Parasite took home its historic Oscar for Best Picture. Some fans are very wary about a U.S. production company taking a specifically Korean story and re-casting with American actors. However, many others are willing to trust in Bong’s vision, as the story of class divisions is universal and he’s clearly very hands on with the project.

It was already reported that Adam McKay (Succession) was partnering with Bong Joon-ho on the project, and that Mark Ruffalo was being considered for the role of the male lead. While the latter lead to some conflicting responses, The Illuminerdi’s sources also confirm that Ruffalo has been offered the part – though it has yet to be officially accepted. Additionally, we can also confirm that Tilda Swinton is currently set as the female lead in the upcoming Parasite series.

Tilda Swinton and Bong Joon-Ho Partnering on Parasite

tilda swinton and bong joon ho
Swinton and Bong working on Okja.

Before anyone makes Scarlett Johansson-esque jokes about Tilda Swinton taking on Asian roles, which has precedence after Doctor Strange cast her as The Ancient One, it’s important to remember the respect that Bong has for her as an actress.

Not only has he cast her in more than one project, but a recent Curzon podcast episode with them both as guests proves the level of friendship they have. If the acclaimed director is going to bring his vision to the United States, it makes sense for him to surround himself with artists who intimately understand said vision.

That being said, America has plenty of diversity that plays very obviously into its class disparity – so it would only make sense for the miniseries to include actors of other races. In fact, Hollywood Reporter noted that CJ Entertainment mogul Miky Lee previously said that an American Parasite remake might include Hispanic or Filipino actors playing the characters who become support staff. We’ll have to see if HBO follows through on that notion, or otherwise incorporates the country’s race relations into its social commentary.


At the moment, there is no specific descriptions available for the characters. However, the roles themselves certainly suggest that this version of Parasite will follow the same basic story. Tilda Swinton appears to be taking on Jang Hye-jin’s role of Chung-sook (the mother who becomes a maid), while Mark Ruffalo would play Song Kang-ho’s Kitaek (the father who becomes a driver) if he accepts the role. Of course, they could also be playing the rich family’s matriarch and patriarch – it just depends on who is the “lead” family. These are speculations, given the lack of descriptions, but the rest of the list should make the comparisons to the original clear.

The other main characters include: a son and daughter for Swinton and Ruffalo’s characters, a second set of parents, a son and daughter for them, and a housekeeper. The biggest question remains what new story elements HBO and Bong Joon-ho will incorporate into the six hours worth of plot, as the director talked about wanting to fill in several blanks. There’s always the possibility that the series will feature more families outside of the two from the film, or perhaps that the starting point will be earlier.

Are you excited to see Tilda Swinton in Parasite, or are you hitting Twitter to make some memes? Have you ever imagined the Ancient One married to the Hulk? Who else would you like to see in the cast? Let us know in the comments below.


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Tatiana Hullender

Tatiana is an editor for The Illuminerdi, as well as a co-host of several podcasts. She is passionate about superheroes and space operas, as well as Jane Austen and kdramas. Visit @myrcellasear on Twitter to follow Tatiana’s articles, interviews and podcasts including: The Flash Podcast, Pop A La Carte and Ladies With Gumption. Subscribe to them on the Podcast app!