Luke, Sienna and Tom on their insane new film, “High-Rise”

How was it to work on High-Rise?

Luke Evans: Liberating is a very good word. It’s how I felt everyday.

What kind of inspiration did you use when preparing for your roles?

Luke Evans: Somebody kept coming up in my mind — Oliver Reed. Just because of the way he lived his life. He was a hellraiser and he had this fire in his eyes. A very intimidating presence when he wanted to be and incredibly charming when he wanted to be also. There was a very unpredictable nature about him. When you watch interviews with him you just didn’t know whether he was going to give you a kiss or head-butt you. There was a real fine line depending on what you asked him. And I thought that was a really interesting energy to bring to [my character] Wilder. I felt like he was the same often. There’s a scene in the film where he’s chatting to this one woman at a party and this guy comes over and says, “Why are you talking to my girl?” and instead of just walking off because he was walking on territory he shouldn’t have, he punches this guy in the face. And then absolutely pulverizes him. He’s an unusual creature. Somebody you wouldn’t want to meet on a night out, that’s for sure. But I felt that person that we all know of as Oliver Reed was a perfect reference for Wilder.

Did you find yourselves making parallels between the world in the film and the world we live in today, particularly with how isolated we are from one another due to social media?

Luke Evans: It’s very insular — that what’s weird about the story. They can leave at any point. That front door is never locked. They can leave but they choose to stay. There’s something inside of them. They want to live this rule-breaking primal life. Breaking into supermarkets. Stealing things. Having sex with your neighbor. Killing your neighbor. All these strange bizarre things are going on yet all of them can walk away from it at any point. It’s almost like a drug. What’s deep inside of us is ignited in this film.

There would be no story if your characters left the building, but why was it so difficult for them to leave? What kind of logic or backstory did you create for each of your characters about why they chose to stay?

Luke Evans: Well I think for Wilder’s character, there’s questions he wants answered. He wants to know who the architect is for a start. There’s this man who lives on the top floor that he’s never met, and he’s fascinated as to how [his neighbor] Dr. Laing has turned up late and has become friendly with the top floor so quickly while Wilder has never been accepted into that echelon of society, which exists only a few floors above him. He wants to find out those answers. The only way to find them out is by staying and trying to find his way to the top. For him, leaving is not an option. He’s actually dumped outside in a shopping trolley at one point and just gets back up, finds his camera and walks back in. It’s bizarre to put yourself back into the lion’s den. But he chooses to do that.

Luke Evans: And people follow people. Trends happen. There’s a pack mentality in human nature. Especially in children. You see it a lot in school playgrounds. You want to latch onto the successful group or majority. We have this big trend in London of men having beards. It’s traveled and transcended now all throughout the Western world — I can’t grow it and that’s why I’m so bitter! But even things like that, people like trends. And I think in this story, you see everybody become part of this circus of damnation in order to avoid becoming the minority. It’s really dark.

The film is set in London but had its premiere in New York, another city where it could easily have been set. Since you all travel back and forth between the two cities frequently for work, what are your thoughts on each place and what they offer?

Luke Evans: London falls asleep. London has a sleep mode. But New York doesn’t. It never stops. My God, this city never stops! It’s so noisy. I feel like in London you can turn a corner and you’ll find a street with no traffic and no people. Here, I’ve tried it: it’s impossible. It’s impossible, I’ve done it. Literally, I’ve walked everywhere in this city. I lived here for three months. I couldn’t find a moment of solace. It was a massive difference for me between London and New York. I love it though. I really love it.

Read the full interview, here.