HOLLYWOOD – Try to imagine a galactic adventure where multiple lives are lived –in multi-ethnic bodies– over the course of five centuries. The thought borders on the unimaginable. But in the skillful hands of Oscar winners Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) and Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”), author David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS, the 2004 best-selling novel turned motion picture epic reaches new heights of the creative imagination, taking us all on a ride for the ages.
As the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future, one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Hanks and Berry lead a stellar international cast that also includes Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent (“Iris”), Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, Keith David and David Gyasi, with Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”) and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the story moves through time.
Everything is connected. Further, this film cleverly takes on the cause and effect of personal motivations and corresponding actions that run a close second to the author’s opportunity to unpack the legacy of ethnic atrocities, seeking human equality over the course of history. CLOUD ATLAS will tap into your thinking, expand your perspective and leave you with much to ponder.
Running nearly three hours, I sat on the edge of my seat, fully enthralled by the film’s mystique, technical artistry and range of authentic voices captured in Mitchell’s 500-page-turner, who was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
Transference of Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS to the big screen was also in good hands, namely, acclaimed filmmakers Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski of THE MATRIX movie franchise.
CLOUD ATLAS is rated R by the MPAA for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.
I sat with the cast and filmmakers in Los Angeles to talk about this intriguing new film from Warner Bros. Pictures. In conversations with Hanks and Berry, they shared more than movie notes–
Talk2SV: Given the layers of stories within this film, the length of it, the complexity of it, the filmmakers had to choose the right talent to keep audiences engaged throughout. What approach did you take knowing that the weight of this film rests principally on the two of you?
Halle Berry: Well, good thing I never knew that because I wouldn’t have done it. What I was so inspired by is that I didn’t feel like it rested on me, certainly not me. I felt like it was a classic ensemble. Every character, every part that everybody had to play was equally important to telling the story that the filmmakers had in their minds, that was most important. They had to take David Mitchell’s book and put it into a cohesive story that would translate to screen, one that hopefully audiences would want to follow along with. I was honored that they called me up and said, “We want you for it.” There was no mention of auditioning, and in my mind, I think, well do I have to come in and meet and have conversations and prove that I can do it, that I’ve thought about it, that I understand it. I knew they were putting so much faith in me and I just wanted to live up to their expectation every single day. I wanted to help them make their dream come to fruition that had been fostering for years.
Tom Hanks: They (the filmmakers) wouldn’t let us panic. They wouldn’t let us come in and be so freaked out about any individual choice; they were just so happy to see us every day and were so anxious for us to play in their repertory company. Without a doubt they steered us to some degree. Specifically, I was slashing Hughes’ throat with far too much vengeance, literally, and Lana was on me saying, it can’t be that way; you can’t be the guy who is seeking revenge; there has to be a different version because otherwise the whole story of Zachary is going to be blown. And that’s a faith in us in order to get there without any corrective measure. They were very, very gentle and very inclusive in the process.
Talk2SV: This movie pushes boundaries in every imaginable way. On the other side of the experience, have you let go of any boundaries or preconceptions about anything?
Berry: Well, I’ve always had that kind of philosophy of life. I’ve always believed in that. Tom and I fight on this subject. It just affirmed things that I’ve always believed. I think that I started off young in my life questioning, for a while, I was studying Buddhism…
I’ve always thought about what was I before I was this, and what will I be when I leave here (this earth). I really had a hard time always accepting that at some point I’m just going to turn to dust and ashes and that the journey would stop. So I just believe that we are souls kind of like a version of what our movie presents, that we are souls and we come here again and again until we arrive at our highest evolution. What happens after that, I don’t know, but I just don’t think it’s some abyss of nothingness and that we fall off and that our journey stops. I think it’s circular and I know that there are civilizations far more sophisticated than we are. I do think more sophisticated civilizations lived before us. I mean, when you think about how the Egyptian pyramids were built…today, I think people would struggle to figure out how we could do that. But look how many years ago that kind of technology and ingenuity was able to be possible so I just can’t believe that this is all there is. CLOUD ATLAS helped solidify that for me as I’ve lived with that level of thinking for so long and thought about it so much.
Hanks: I am a lay historian by nature and I seek out an empirical reflection of what truth is. I want the whole story. But I’ve always sort of thought unconsciously that all history, all human history, is that connection from person to person, event to event, from idea to idea. For me, I think this movie is quite profound. In the beginning when for example, we hear one of the character’s say, ‘Truth is singular. Version of truths is mystery.’ I thought, well holy smoke, that’s the deepest thing I’ve heard anywhere. Later into the film, one of Susan Sarandon’s characters says, “from womb to tomb. we’re all connected, your choices reverberate through eternity.” I think that is such a simple and profound explanation for how we are all connected that I had never thought of it before, but now, I got it. I think that it actually supports this embracing of the mysteries that had been enough for me prior to making the movie.
Talk2SV: I understand you suffered an injury while making this movie. How did it affect the process?
Berry: It affected every decision, every moment for the rest of the time after I broke my foot. It was a challenge for every one…every co-star, every director, and every costume designer. Everybody was so gracious in supporting me in every single way possible because they didn’t want me to go home. The day after it happened, I heard, “Lana and Andy want to come see you,” and I thought, oh God, they are surely going to give me my papers, send me packing and bring in somebody else. I never was so touched and never had I cried so hard when they came to me and said, “No, it’s just a bump in the road, we’re going to fix this.” I couldn’t believe it because so many actors, so much scheduling had gone on for years to make this all work and they were willing to say, “We’ll throw it all in the wind, we want you to stay on this movie and we’re going to work it out.”
Read the full interview at www.Talk2SV.com.