Ben Whishaw Reveals Actors Will Swap Gender and Race for CLOUD ATLAS

     August 31, 2011


We knew that the Wachowski Siblings/Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas would be a little crazy.  We knew that the actors would be playing multiple characters.  But in a recent interview with Vulture, cast member Ben Whishaw reveals how crazy it’s going to get.  Whishaw tells Vulture, “Everyone in the cast is playing at least three parts, some big and some small… Everybody’s swapping race and gender, so it’s very ambitious and quite fun.”  For his parts, Whishaw is playing “Frobisher in the thirties; a female American in the seventies, in the Luisa Rey section; and a smallish role, where I’m basically an extra, in a modern-day nursing home, in the Timothy Cavendish section.”  For those unfamiliar with the book, it takes six nested stories across different locales and eras.  Folks who have read the novel say that it’s going to be a tough adaptation but that this approach may be the best way to do it.

However it turns out, I like the ambition although it’s tough to swap genders in a movie and not have it come off as comedic or to swap race and not have it come off as offensive.  Hit the jump for a synopsis of the novel.  Cloud Atlas also stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon.

Here’s the synopsis for David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas:

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.


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