'Cloud Atlas', the trippy new epic from directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, has a huge cast, but most of the stars play the same soul over many incarnations. Tom Hanks starts off as a rascally doctor mixed up in the 19th-century slave trade and ends as a father trying to save his family from post-apocalyptic cannibals.
The Oscar-winning actor stars alongside Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon and others playing mutiple roles, spanning centuries in the film which is based on the best-selling novel of the same title by David Mitchell.
“We all evolve in different ways,” explains Hanks. “There are six characters that I am playing in the film. Of which, Dermot Hoggins is my favourite because he got to throw a critic off a balcony to his horrible, crushing death. That was hilarious. Oh God, how I loved it. It was magnificent,” he exclaims.
Talking about his most memorable moment in the film the actor shares, “My most memorable moment was when I saw Hugh Grant in the cannibal getup. For me, it was totally worth doing the movie, if only to see Hugh Grant as a cannibal. Grant starts off as someone who is just ignorant and ends up playing someone who eats human flesh, so he’s definitely on the way down. I start off as being governed by nothing but greed and end up trying to overcome all sorts of self-loathing and fear to do the right thing. As actors, we all really got a chance to explore a whole gamut of emotions.”
In the movie, opening today, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, who made 'The Matrix', and Tom Tykwer, Hanks portrays a corrupt doctor on a sailing vessel in the South Pacific, a nosy clerk at a shabby European hotel in the 1930s, a conflicted nuclear scientist in 1970s Northern California, a thuggish gangster-slash-author in contemporary London, a minor character in a TV movie being watched in a totalitarian future society in Korea and a tormented post-apocalyptic tribesman on the Big Island.
Talking about her co-star Halle Berry, Hanks says “It was great working with her. She is a very beautiful actress and person. There’s something calm about her, and that comes through in her performances.”
Preparing for the role
“The physicality and the vocal quality of it are going to have to come out of a very organic place, and that’s a big chore when you’re only playing one role. When you’re playing six roles, time is your enemy because you don’t have as much. It was incredibly fun though,” says the 56-year-old actor.
The quick-change work by the actors in the film is impressive, but it’s the make-up people behind the camera who deserve the most credit. For one character — the goateed, gold chain-wearing “Knuckle Sandwich” author Dermot Hoggins — Hanks’ physical transformation was so complete that the dozens of extras on set didn’t even recognise him. “There were a couple of scenes that were difficult. Especially the ones where we had heavy make-up. The crews who did our make-up were the most hard-working people on this movie,” Hanks confesses.
“Sometimes I read something, the other times I would catch up with my co-stars. That’s the only time we get to play some pranks and make the environment lighter,” says Hanks.
There’s Saving Mr. Banks that I am working on right now. And I am also trying couple of new things.