Tom Hanks and Halle Berry star in ‘Cloud Atlas,’ a new film spanning centuries and genres. The film is an epic of shifting genres and intersecting souls that features Hanks, Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess and James D’Arcy. / Warner Bros. Pictures/Jay Maidment/Associated Press
Tom Hanks is such a big fan of science-fiction movies that back in 1982, he and his “Bosom Buddies” co-star Peter Scolari snuck onto the soundstage where “‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” was being filmed.
Hanks didn’t land the cameo in “Wrath of Khan” that he dreamed about. But now thanks to “Cloud Atlas,” the latest from the Wachowski siblings (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), the actor is finally starring in his own sci-fi extravaganza. And it only took him about 30 years to do it.
“They just don’t ask me to make (sci-fi) movies,” says the two-time Oscar winner. “It’s cosmic, man, that these three filmmakers did. They all have comet tattoos on them somewhere and they just change the lives of everybody that they come across.”
Based on David Mitchell’s acclaimed 2006 novel, “Cloud Atlas” is an almost-impossible-to-describe tale that spans continents, genres and centuries. Shot both in the United States and Germany, the film (opening Friday) netted a 10-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Roger Ebert called it “astonishing” but there were naysayers, including Karina Longworth of the LA Weekly who described the movie as “dramatically incoherent.”
Hanks says he was a convert as soon as he read the script, which he likens to “a hug that gets tighter and tighter.”
Adds the actor, “When I heard that they were going make a German blockbuster that was written in Costa Rica, I said, ‘I’m in,’ because I have never, never heard such a bodacious, United Nations approach to making a film before.”
Six interwoven stories, stretching from an 1849-set adventure on the high seas to a 24th century saga of tribal warfare, unreel with the same cast of actors (Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess) playing different roles in each of them.
With the help of make-up, wigs and prosthetic devices like rubber noses, the performers play characters far removed from themselves, sometimes jumping races and genders.
Berry, for instance, plays a 1970s reporter, a white Jewish aristocrat in the 1930s and a Victorian housewife.
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