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Claire Denis On How Philip Seymour Hoffman Inspired ‘High Life’ And The “Heartrending Charisma” Of Robert Pattinson

Claire Denis On How Philip Seymour Hoffman Inspired 'High Life' And The "Heartrending Charisma" Of Robert Pattinson

This spring, arthouse auteur and cinephile favorite Claire Denis will start production on a project that will likely see her biggest audience yet. Starring Robert PattinsonPatricia Arquette, and Mia Goth, the sci-fi “High Life” follows a group of skilled criminals who trade in facing jail time and capital punishment for agreeing to participate in a likely fatal government space mission, where they will be tasked with finding alternate energy sources and will be part of human reproduction experiments. Ambitious stuff indeed, and speaking with Vogue Hommes, the filmmaker reveals that it was actually another actor she first envisioned in her movie.

READ MORE: New Plot Details Emerge For Claire Denis’ ‘High Life’

“I had a screenplay which was naturally in English, because the story takes place in space and, I don’t know why, but for me, people speak English — or Russian or Chinese — but definitely not French in space. While I was writing the script, I had a face in mind: actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. No one has ever made me feel such a sense of humanity in them. It was something tangible. I felt I could almost touch it,” she said. “And then he died, of a massive overdose of various drugs. He was found at home alone with a syringe in his arm.” 
The loss of Hoffman was “terribly painful” for Denis, but the project managed to capture the attention of Pattinson, and her worries were not about his talent, but whether or not he’d want to make her kind of movie. But he’s on board, and the director is eager to capture his allure.

“When I saw ‘Twilight,’ I liked it immediately because he has heartrending charisma. It’s strange, though, because it would be difficult to imagine anyone more unlike Philip Seymour Hoffman physically, but Robert is very enigmatic, with a powerful presence. He gives off an aura that immediately makes you want to film him,” she said.

For his role, Denis says Pattinson will be playing “a man a long way from earth. One by one, his companions die, and he survives, perhaps because he has a taciturn, monastic side to him that protects him. He will have to make decisions that affect others, not just himself. He’s rather like a knight of the Round Table projected into a world of science fiction. I imagine him to be secretly hemmed in, so that even when he’s in a group, he appears to be alone, and this reserve or diffidence gives him an ability, which others don’t have, to withstand fear and pain.” 

Thus far, it sounds like the kind of cerebral sci-fi we love, with the kind of deeply-thoughtful approach we’d expect from Denis. Production on “High Life” begins in May. [via Rob Pattinson 360 — From Every Angle]

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