Ben Wheatley Talks "High-Rise"

Ben Wheatley is having a rare break from film this year, directing episodes of Doctor Who rather than bringing us another British chiller in the vein of Kill List, Sightseers or A Field In England. But even as he gets to grips with the TARDIS, he's planning his next foray onto the big screen with an adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise. He spoke to our Chris Hewitt in the new issue of Empire to tell us a little more about the Tom Hiddleston-starring film.

"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. "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."

And Laing? "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."

"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."

But things will be different for the director this time. "This is the fifth film in and it's the first time we've had a set. It's a major deal. It's a different kind of filmmaking, marrying up the handheld and doco styles with the more controlled advertising and TV stuff I've done. That's going to be very exciting."

High-Rise will hit screens sometime in 2015. In the meantime, you'll be able to catch Wheatley at work in the Doctor Who series (starring Peter Capaldi) that arrives later this year.