The ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is more than a little peculiar. Most of the actors in the star-studded ensemble are playing multiple roles, production is split between three directors and two separate units with two different crews (Andy and Lana Wachowski directing one unit, Tom Twyker directing the other), and the film is being financed by a hodgepodge of investors. It’s a smart business move that gives the famously secretive filmmakers an incredible amount of creative freedom for the epic undertaking. Today new details on the film have been revealed, with star Halle Berry saying two of the characters she plays include a Jewish woman in the 1930s and “an old tribal woman.” Hit the jump for much more.
Speaking with the New York Times (via The Playlist), Berry said that it’s actually hard to keep track of all the different actors on set given the intense amount of makeup going into their characters:
“Some days I go into the trailer, I’ll be having a conversation — I won’t even know it’s with Hugh Grant until five minutes in.”
Mitchell’s novel centers on multiple characters with interlocking storylines that take place across different locations and time periods. The NY Times piece notes that the Wachowskis and Twyker are operating two separate film units that are working simultaneously. This way the movie can be made in half the time and won’t require the A-list cast (that’s working for a much smaller fee than usual) to devote an extended period of time to the project. The result is that actors are moving back and forth between the two units on alternating days, sometimes even working essentially as an extra.
Producers ran into trouble finding financing for the sprawling project until the filmmakers decided to translate the script into multiple Asian languages and shop it around the continent. They found that the film’s themes of reincarnation resonated with potential investors in the East, resulting in China, Korea and Singapore becoming the film’s predominant investors. Footage from the pic was recently shown at the American Film Market, with one distributor describing it as “phantasmagorical,” saying it’s “unlike anything I’ve seen in the last 40 years.” With the Wachowskis involved we expected something off-center, but Cloud Atlas sounds like a whole other beast.
In addition to Berry and Grant, the cast also includes Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy and Jim Sturgess.