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It's kind of hard to get any specific details about the upcoming adaptation of Cloud Atlas-- and even if you got them, it'd be hard to know what to make of them. David Mitchell's famously sprawling, genre-bending novel has been adapted by the trio of the Wachowski siblings Lana and Andy and Tom Tykwer, along with an all-star cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess and Hugh Grant. Each of the actors will play at least six different parts in the inter-weaving narratives, which range from the adventures of an American intellectual traveling in the South Pacific in the 19th century to a futuristic society in Hawaii, where the last remaining humans live like early natives after the rest of humanity self-destructs.
Hugh Grant has talked before about how he's barely recognizable in the movie, but when I spoke to him the other day about Pirates! Band of Misfits I decided to ask him about a few specific characters from the book that I thought he might be playing. Unfortunately I guessed wrong on a big one-- and I'll tell you after why it makes no sense the way they cast it-- but he did reveal one character Halle Berry will play, as well as a little more about the arduous makeup process the entire cast endured. Check out the clip below, which starts off with him admitting how choosy he's been about his movie roles over the last few years.
So, as he mentions, Tom Hanks will be playing Dr. Henry Goose, who we meet in the very first page of the book as he befriends our American traveler, Adam Ewing. Goose specifically begins his role in these tory with a rant about British high society, and it seemed a perfect role for Grant, while Hanks would make sense as Ewing. If anything, their roles might be reversed, which I guess makes sense for the make-up heavy, expectation-bending adventure the Wachowskis and Tykwer have created.
And what should you make of what he revealed about Halle Berry's role? The part he's referring to is surely Jocasta Ayrs, wife of the composer Vyvyan Ayrs, both central figures in the second story in the book, about the young composer Robert Frobisher who goes to work for Ayrs at his home in Belgium. On the Cloud Atlas IMDb page Ben Whishaw is listed as Frobisher, but it's unclear if that's confirmed or just a totally logical assumption-- as the only young Englishman in the cast, Whishaw makes perfect sense as Frobisher. Then again, Grant has already proved that the Wachowskis and Tykwer aren't going to logical casting at all, so for all we know Hanks will be playing Frobisher. But if you want to go with a little bit of logic here, you can probably assume Whishaw and Berry will spend some time rolling in the sheets together, as Frobisher begins a very, very ill-advised affair with Jocasta that spans a lot of his story.
I know that Cloud Atlas is probably one of those novels that should never be adapted as a film, and that the Wachowskis and Tykwer have both burned us in the past, what with Speed Racer and The International. But I can't help being excited for it, because if the movie Cloud Atlas is half as thrilling and imaginative as the book, it ought to be one of the most innovative and tricky films we see this year. Have Grant's hints gotten you as intrigued as I am?