INTERVIEW | THE ATLANTIC | The Artistic Chemistry of Robert Pattinson and Claire Denis

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David Sims: How did you two meet? What’s the Robert and Claire story?

Robert Pattinson: We met in L.A. five or six years ago. I had seen a bunch of her movies, and I’d been trying to meet her for years. With High Life, I was stunned to hear that she was doing an English-language thing. I knew [her casting director] Des Hamilton and forced him to get me a meeting.

Claire Denis: It’s very funny to think that. If I do casting for a film, I’m longing for someone; I want someone to say yes. But when someone is asking “Can we meet?,” it’s frightening because suddenly I don’t know what to say. I think maybe he will be disappointed. Maybe I’m not going to be the person he wants me to be. Maybe what he sees in my film, it’s wrong.

Pattinson: I’ve noticed that with a few other directors. There was another writer-director in England whom I was trying to meet. And I was really aware of her trying to avoid it. I guess because as an actor you’re so used to people telling you no all the time, you assume [she doesn’t want to see you], but I found out she’s just really shy and nervous about meeting you. And it’s like, Why? When you come from an actor’s standpoint, you have no power most of the time. Whenever you meet someone, you’re just like, “Please,” cap in hand, begging.

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