Ben Wheatley on High-Rise

Interviewed by Jason Wood for the BFI, Ben Wheatley covered bases from the score, to the visceral imagery, to the careful balance struck between location and CGI. Read an extract of the interview below.


The combination of observation and humour is an overlooked facet of Ballard’s work I feel. Your work is perhaps more noted for its black humour.

Ballard’s work is very funny I think, but it is very hard to translate. Because the humour is in the turn of phrase. The humour in Ballard’s High-Rise revolves around how he describes people and what they do and it’s difficult to do that as a straight translation. I honestly think that Amy has done a fantastic job with it.

It’s incredibly visceral. I am thinking especially of Laing dissecting the severed head.

It’s a statement of intent. It’s a film that is very much about the stripping away of social masks and showing what is literally beneath the surface. For me that was a really interesting image,

It’s a risky role for Tom Hiddleston as young doctor with a faint whiff of conscience. He’s the most sympathetic character in the film but that really isn’t saying very much.

I’ve watched Hiddleston in the films of Joanna Hogg and the Marvel pictures he has made and enjoyed him in both. He’s a very smart guy and knows how to play complexity. As an actor he’s also incredibly committed.


This interview was first published in the BFI Filmmakers Magazine in summer 2015. An updated version is available to read in full on the BFI website here.

Our next event takes place on the 1st April 2019 and will mark the 10th anniversary of British author J. G. Ballard’s death, with an event on his 1975 novel High-Rise. Our panel will feature three expert speakers on contemporary literature, science fiction and urban design: Prof. Roger Luckhurst, Dr. Aiden Tynan, and Dr. Günter Gassner.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

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