Tilda Swinton and David Thewlis have been cast in Terry Gilliam's forthcoming sci-fi film The Zero Theorem.

Thewlis and Swinton join Christoph Waltz, who plays a computer genius, reports The Playlist.

This will be 71-year-old director Gilliam's first film since The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009.

The casting news was accompanied by the first brief synopsis of the film, which reads: "An eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence - or the lack thereof - once and for all."

Gilliam revealed that unlike some of his other productions, which famously have required a number of extravagant sets, the film will largely take place in one location.

He explained: "The main character is literally living in this burnt-out chapel which one could take as a metaphor for old beliefs and old systems," he said. "He's a computer genius but he's just sitting there waiting for a phone call, which he's hoping will give meaning to his life.

"It really is about relationships, and discovering what's really important in life... two-thirds of it - if not more - take place in a ruined chapel."