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Ben Wheatley talks his Tom Hiddleston starring adaptation of High Rise

02.27.2014by: Kevin Woods

Back in August of last year we told you about KILL LIST and SIGHTSEERS director Ben Wheatley's plans to take the helm on a long-gestating adaptation of J.G. Ballard's HIGH RISE, learning earlier this month that THOR and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE star Tom Hiddleston had been cast in the lead role. Now Wheatley has spoken with Empire about his plans for HIGH RISE and what kind of tone we can expect.

Of the source material Wheatley says...

"It's a very relevant book. It was written in the '70s, projecting itself into a near future, but we live in that future now. It's a book that's about our parents in a way, that generation, and we're the generation that's the Thatcher generation. We're almost in a new version of the '70s. Nothing's really moved forward particularly. It just resets, doesn't it?"

He also spoke about casting Tom Hiddleston in the lead role of Dr. Robert Laing, a complex and anti-heroic figure, sharing...

"Ames (Amy Jump, his screenwriter and wife) and I cut some faces out of film stars we liked. Tom Hiddleston's face was, disturbingly, on a whiteboard in our kitchen for quite a long time. It's scary. I don't think he knows that. He was our number one choice. You can see in the choices he made, if you go from Archipelago to Thor, it's a pretty broad spectrum. He's a very smart guy. I was chuffed."

Hiddleston's character, Robert Laing, is described as a young doctor seduced by the titular high-rise and its creator, the visionary architect Anthony Royal. Laing discovers a world of complex loyalties, and also strikes up a relationship with Royal’s devoted aide Charlotte. Wheatley says of the Laing character...

"Ballardian heroes are a tricky bunch, that's for sure. Look at [James] Spader in Crash or even Christian Bale in Empire Of The Sun. They avoid, don't they, a lot of the time? They're tricky to pull off."

But under Wheatley's direction, I'm sure Hiddleston will have no trouble making it work.

As for where he is seeking inspiration for HIGH RISE, Wheatley says...

"I'm looking forward to the '70s and doing the '70s. That period of British filmmaking is fascinating, so I've been looking at that and a lot of graphic design and fashion, and listening to a lot of music. I've got a massive 1975 playlist going on at the moment."

I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Wheatley does with HIGH RISE as he hasn't disappointed yet. Here's the synopsis for HIGH RISE:

High-Rise centers on a new residential tower built on the eve of Thatcher’s England, at the site of what will soon become the world’s financial hub. Designed as a luxurious solution to the problems of the city, it is a world apart.

But rot has set in beneath the flawless surface. Sensing discord amongst the tenants, young doctor Robert Laing meets Wilder, a charismatic provocateur bent on inciting the situation. Wilder initiates Laing into the hidden life of the high-rise and Laing is shocked at what he sees. 

As the residents break into tribal factions, Laing finds himself in the middle of mounting violence. Violence that he also finds emerging in himself.

HIGH RISE will hit screens sometime in 2015.

Extra Tidbit: Have you checked out Wheatley's A FIELD IN ENGLAND? Are you looking forward to HIGH RISE?
Source: Empire

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