When he came by the Deadline studio with High Life director Claire Denis and his co-star Mia Goth, Robert Pattinson found it hard to articulate how much he enjoyed working with the acclaimed French director. Praising her for risk-taking as well as her humor—the movie drew gasps for its explicit nude scenes—Pattinson said the shoot was “like going to another country”.

The collaboration came partly at the actor’s own instigation, he said. “I’d been pursuing Claire for ages,” Pattinson recalled. “We met in LA, and I just really liked her in the meeting. [But] it was just one of those really long processes—I think it was four years later or something when we did the movie, and it’s probably been an eight-year process [in all].”

Luckily, Pattinson was a little less tongue-tied when it came to describing his character. “I play a guy called Monte,” he said, “who is a convict who’s serving a really long sentence for a crime he committed when he was a young boy. Like everyone in the crew, he’s given an option to serve science by exploring black holes and also being kind of a human guinea pig.”

But even though High Life is set in space, and involves black holes and rocket ships, the director refutes the term “sci-fi”. “It’s a story I had in mind for a long time,” she said, “of people who are so far in space, outside the solar system, that there is no return possible to earth. It is not sci-fi. It’s just human people, people from Earth, sent so far [away] that going home is not even thinkable, and the idea was that something that is not obvious would happen—something that would be a taboo [on Earth] would happen, because the situation is very different.”

Find out more about High Life by clicking on the video above.

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2018 presented by eOne. Special thanks to sponsor Watford Group, and partners Calii LoveLove Child Social, and Barocco Coffee.