Tom Hanks Interview For ‘Cloud Atlas’
‘Cloud Atlas’ explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Halle Berry lead a top-notch international cast that includes Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time.
‘Cloud Atlas’ is written for the screen and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski. The Wachowskis previously teamed as writers/directors of the groundbreaking ‘Matrix’ trilogy, which earned more than $1.6 billion, combined, at the worldwide box office. Tykwer won an Independent Spirit Award and earned a BAFTA Award nomination as the director/writer of Run Lola Run,’ and more recently directed the award-winning thriller ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.’ ‘Cloud Atlas’ is based on the celebrated best-selling novel by David Mitchell. The film arrives in cinemas October 26th in the US and Febuary 22nd, 2013 in the UK. My joint interview with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry for the film can be found here, while my individual interview with Halle Berry can be read here (more to come).
In ‘Cloud Atlas’ you appear in six roles, each representing the journey of a single soul through points along the continuum. How was it being a part of something that encompasses such a range of the human experience, themes of courage, hope, wonder, love, redemption, treachery, struggle, loss, love found again….?
Tom Hanks: Truly exciting. The characters in ‘Cloud Atlas’ are often witnessing something that could change their lives forever and they have to act. They can be heroes or cowards. The question is, “What is history but countless moments like this, strung together? What is the human condition but a series of decisions you have to make?” It’s a wildly entertaining piece of storytelling. Take what you will from it. There’s never a moment when the camera is not capturing some spectacular stunt or human emotion. When I read the screenplay, it initially raised questions about who these people are, and then their connections became evident. Their artistic struggles, their fights for survival and the choices that bridge one life to the next also became evident and I was completely involved. It’s a perfect blending of David Mitchell’s story and the cinematic power of our three directors – a brilliant piece of cinematic literature that examines the connectivity of the human race through time.
How did you find the experience of working with directors Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer in shaping ‘Cloud Atlas’?
Tom Hanks: The pressure that Lana, Andy and Tom put on themselves to see this project through was equalled by the faith they had in us as actors. It really was extraordinary the way they allowed us to follow our instincts. This shoot went by in the wink of an eye because every day we were embarking on an exciting new sequence and I was part of a great team – a genuinely unified ensemble. And it’s not just a matter of style, it’s a matter of philosophy what these guys are doing. A lot of great directors can come in and you see the pre-vis, the storyboards, the animatics, and you get it, you can see where they’re going. But it’s like some buildings are doors and windows and floors and elevators and stairwells, and other building are great architecture. I think this movie has magnificent, stellar architecture.
There’s a large ensemble of actors in ‘Cloud Atlas,’ each playing multiple parts, including cross-gendered roles, set in a different place and era. I can imagine that must have been interesting coming to work everyday?
Tom Hanks: Definitely. At times in movies you’re working by yourself, or you’re working with the same two people. And no matter how delightful it is, you can yearn for something different. This movie, ‘Cloud Atlas,’ it went by in the wink of an eye as far as shooting it goes, because everyday we were either starting a sequence that is loaded with brand new folks, or we were finishing a sequence that was so much fun to make because of the three or four or five other people that were in it. To me the whole great thing about being an actor is you get to hang with really talented, funny, driven, competitive folks – that raise your game. It’s about being apart of a team.
How did you find the challenge of playing these six characters?
Tom Hanks: 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 (laughs). When you’re playing six, time is your enemy because you don’t have as much (laughs). It was incredibly fun though. There’s a huge amount of the truth of human nature that went into ‘Cloud Atlas.’ But more than anything else, I would say that it has a scope bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. So being a part of that was incredible. It was brilliant fun. We got to shoot in some amazing places. It was difficult though, to go to some of the places emotionally that my characters needed to go to.
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