INTERVIEW | NO FILM SCHOOL | How Claire Denis and Robert Pattinson Fought for Their ‘Solaris,’ ‘2001’-Inspired Sci-Fi

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NFS: And how did you conceive of High Life‘s universe, which exists almost entirely on a very lo-fi spaceship, and is very much rooted in the human experience?

Denis: It was clear to me that the ship was going to be simple, like a jail. So I started with the minimum.

I was not terribly interested in special effects. I thought if we have in a studio—a good place to work—that would be great enough for me. And then, if we need special effects, we’ll see about that after we build something [practical].

Pattinson: The world of High Life was interesting in terms of performance. It’s like, if you’re in any kind of high-security prison, the people controlling everything have no obligation to tell you the rules or anything, so you’re living in this environment where everything can change on the dime. People can just experiment on you. You try and rebel against things, but you don’t really know what’s coming at any point and you have no autonomy. It’s quite interesting acting in an environment where there’s no point having hopes or dreams or anything. It just is what it is. How do people act when there’s no future?