Jim Sturgess & Doona Bae 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 other interviews for the film can be read here (more to come): Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, Halle Berry and Tom Hanks.
I really enjoyed you two in ‘Cloud Atlas,’ I felt that I could relate and understand your journeys. How do you see your stories in the film?
Jim Sturgess: It’s a really heartbreaking love story, amongst all this other stuff that’s going on. It’s a really difficult and problematic and exciting revelation of love, you know? Doona’s character is experiencing love for the very first time, and my character has a very military focus, he suddenly finds himself falling in love while he’s trying to see this military operation through. I don’t think he pictured that to happen once he started to rescue her from Papa Song’s restaurant. It’s already set up as a really heartbreaking and beautiful scenario.
What was your reaction when you were first approaching to join ‘Cloud Atlas,’ this story with such huge scope, something that encompasses such a range of the human experience, with themes of courage, hope, wonder, love, redemption, treachery, struggle, loss, love found again….?
Jim Sturgess: I was excited. It has big ideas, it’s a film about all kinds of things. It has big ideas about love, hatred, oppression, corporate corruption, science, religion….it’s such a giant scope of ideas all thrown into these sort of crazy stories that all kind of interconnect. There’s loads to take from it and think about. From speaking to Lana and Andy about the story when I first met them in the Covent Garden Hotel, hearing their ideas, hearing what they were hoping to achieve with the film, the multi-role thing, the fact that you’re playing a soul and your soul has a particular journey – your not just playing sporadic characters for the sake of playing multiple characters, there’s a specific reason for every character you play. That was fascinating.
Doona, how did you find it playing these multiple characters?
Doona Bae: I loved it! I loved trying on the different looks. I wore that fat suit for the Mexican woman, and it took five or six hours to put the prosthetics on all over my face. It was amazing though, I loved it. After all these years I’m kind of sick of my face (laughs), so it was a great experience (laughs).
How was it working with the prosthetics, makeup and costumes? And also working with your fellow actors, some of which I’m sure you admired, looking unrecognisable?
Jim Sturgess: It was weird for me because I done a lot of stuff with Tom Hanks, and he had a bigger makeup job than me when I was playing Adam. So I rarely ever saw Tom as Tom, you know (laughs)? I’d come into the makeup room and he’d already be putting it on. And then we’d do a whole day and he’s be dressed up as Dr. Goose with the big ginger beard and crazy teeth. I got so used to seeing Tom like that, it was pretty rare for the whole four months to see Tom as Tom Hanks. Because when the day was done he’d be getting it all taken off and I would leave before it was all finished. Tom Hanks to me was a big sweaty, ginger Dr for most of the time (laughs). He was having fun.
What was the experience like working with three directors on ’Cloud Atlas’?
Doona Bae: We had two units, so you’d work with Lana and Andy Wachowski, then Tom Tykwer separately. It was a lot easier than I expected.
Jim Sturgess: Yeah. You kind of jumped around, most of my stuff and Doona’s stuff was with the Wachowski’s, about 90% of it was with Lana and Andy. That was really our base, then we would go and visit the other set. Dress up in a crazy outfit and play for the day (laughs).
Doona Bae: The Wachowski’s, they’re amazing, they’re geniuses.
Jim Sturgess: Yeah, it’s pretty rare that you get such different personalities as people, but then they’re so united as a sort of directing idea. They’re so creative. Just thinking about them growing up together, playing together and coming up with stories their whole lives as kids, they’re just so unified together. But they also embrace the idea of film being a really sociable art form. They liked to throw parties and show bits of the film to the whole crew, keep everyone’s morale up. They’re aware that it’s a big whole unit of people. We had a really good time, I didn’t want it to end to be honest (laughs).
Had you read the ‘Cloud Atlas’ book before joining the film?
Doona Bae: Yes, but I read the Korean version of the book (laughs).
Jim Sturgess: So did I, I read the Korean version (laughs). I was familiar with the book, I knew about the book, but I hadn’t read the book before I got the screenplay. So the ‘Cloud Atlas’ screenplay was really the first time I read what was happening. But then I read the book after I read the script and had agreed to do the film.
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