HIGH LIFE | INTERVIEW | THE PLAYLIST | Claire Denis Talks About ‘High Life’, Robert Pattinson & Their New Project Together ‘The Stars At Noon’

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I also found her scenes with Pattinson’s Monte incredibly erotic.
She finds him very sexy. She can’t help but tell him. When we did the casting, I couldn’t help but think of the obvious, that any woman would have found Robert Pattinson attracted, found him seductive. To detract from that and not depict the obvious would have damaged the film. The beauty of a person, of course, comes from the physical, but there’s also that inner attractiveness that lures us in. Take, for example, Andre Benjamin, to me he’s the most beautiful of men, a sort of Dalai Lama with such a strong spirituality and force.

Benjamin, formerly from Outkast, a musician, poet and, of course, actor.
Andre3000. He doesn’t want to do Outkast anymore. I adore Andre Benjamin the actor and, yet, he originally didn’t want to be in the movie. I had to go all the way to Atlanta to convince him, I told him, “Please, I need you in my movie.” He then accepted my invitation.

His character can easily be forgotten, his scenes rather subdued, but when you ponder and wonder about him afterward he intensely stays in your head.
I think about him all the time. His majesty. Not to detract from Pattinson himself, who is such an intelligent and confident person.

Robert [Pattinson] said the same things about you.
There is a reason why my next movie will be with him. I just enjoy working with this man, an adaptation of “The Stars at Noon,” the novel from the late, brilliant writer Denis Johnson.

I don’t know where it was, but I had read that you had originally envisioned Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Monte.
When I was writing the screenplay, I wanted him to play the role, because I wanted a man that can show desperation on-screen. As we were writing the second draft of the screenplay I happened to catch Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.” That scene where he dances, I had never seen a scene like that before, one which makes you feel so human and alive. It made me want to go inside the screen and tell him, “Please, take me in your arms.” When he died I can’t even talk about, too emotional, but when Robert came up to me and told me he wanted to be in the movie I thought he was too young. I was wrong.

The scenes between Monte and the baby could not have been easy to shoot.
That I can guarantee you. [laughs] I wanted to start the movie with those scenes because it says everything about humanity and the look on a parent’s face. If those scenes didn’t exist there would be no movie. It makes you understand who Montes is, what kind of man he is, a tender man.

Without those scenes, we might not know if he’s supposed to be the protagonist or antagonist.
Right, he would just be a depressed man that refuses to give his sperm.

Or as you’ve been calling it in interviews …
The holy liquid [laughs]