Cloud Atlas failed to snag a spot on our Top 20 Anticipated Movies of 2012 list, but the David Mitchell novel adaptation - as is being co-directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and The Matrix creators Andy and Lana Wachowski - is a highly-anticpated project by numerous literature aficionados, hardcore sci-fi fans, along with just about anyone who knows what the source material encompasses (and is curious to see how it translates onscreen).
The Cloud Atlas cast includes several A-list stars and acclaimed thespians alike, such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, and Jim Broadbent. Due to the experimental bend and intertwining nature of the six distinct narrative threads that will make up the adaptation, those cast members will all be portraying multiple characters separated by barriers of time, space, culture, gender, and even race.
Grant sat down recently with Empire to discuss his upcoming film work, which ranges from the genre bending (breaking?) in Cloud Atlas to the animated comedic hijinks of Aardman's The Pirates! Band of Misfits - and, possibly, more wacky rom-com antics in Bridget Jones's Baby. Naturally, it was what Grant had to say about the Tykwer/Wachowski flick that proved most worthy of attention.
Grant revealed the following, about his role(s) in Cloud Atlas:
"I have six cameo parts in this strange, ambitious film. I do a lot of killing and raping. I wear an awful lot of prosthetic make up, too. You probably won’t know that I am in the film! But it was a laugh... I slightly called my own bluff. In one of the parts I am a cannibal, about 2000 years in the future, and I thought, 'I can do that. It’s easy.' And then I am suddenly standing in a cannibal skirt on a mountaintop in Germany and they are saying, 'You know, hungry! We must have that flesh-eating, like a leopard who is so hungry...' and I am thinking, 'I can’t do that! Just give me a witty line!'"
The notion that Grant's character roles in Cloud Atlas are all similarly "incredibly evil" actually makes a good deal of sense. To clarify: Tykwer and the Wachowskis are having the film's cast tackle multiple roles so as to better embody one of the central themes explored in Mitchell's original novel - namely, the cyclical patterns in human nature and behavior throughout history. So, in the Cloud Atlas adaptation, certain characters will literally have the same "essence" (ie. be portrayed by the same actor or actress) as those in a separate storyline.
Suffice it to say: there's a good reason why most everyone is wondering if the Cloud Atlas film adaptation is actually going to "work" - and Grant (while optimistic) appears to be in very much the same boat:
"It will be fascinating to see how ['Cloud Atlas'] turns out. I have seen little bits of cut footage and it is just astonishing. I probably had 20 shooting days, and each of [the film's three directors] is shooting their own part of the film with their own crews. It’s remarkable."
For those not already familiar, here is a synopsis for Mitchell's original Cloud Atlas novel:
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.
So, as should be painfully obvious by now, Cloud Atlas is a project that could turn out as a truly brilliant piece of cinematic art - or, alternatively, a hot mess of epic proportions. Neither Tykwer nor the Wachowskis have ever been the type to back down from a filmmaking challenge; their efforts may not always result in a masterpiece, but all three directors have yet to produce a movie that really earns the label "forgettable," either for good or bad. Hence the interest from all concerned parties, as to what the final film result will be, this time around.
Cloud Atlas does not yet have an official U.S. release date, but is tentatively expected to reach theaters by October 2012.