Tom Hanks with Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas
In Cloud Atlas, you appear in six roles, each representing the journey of a single soul through points in the continuum. How was it being a part of something that encompasses such a huge range?
It was an incredible experience. I believe that everything is connected. All our deeds, our actions are going to reflect in our next life and maybe the life after that too. Everyday 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.
Can you elaborate on each of these characters?
I get to play both hero and villain as a tribal warrior in a post-apocalyptic world, a 19th-century doctor, a 1970s scientist and a modern-day thug who becomes an author. As shown in the film, I’ve always felt, unconsciously, that all human history has that connection from person to person, event to event, and from idea to idea. In a way, the actions and deeds of one can affect the entire humankind.
Which was the toughest character to play?
All of them were equally challenging. When you’re playing six characters, time is your enemy because you don’t have as much. It was difficult to go to some of the places emotionally that my characters needed to go to.
Have you read David Mitchell’s novel of the same name on which the film is based?
I had attempted to read the novel early on. But then I didn’t have enough time, so I had to put it down. Then, when the screenplay came my way again, I went over it four or five times. The screenplay made everything so much simpler that I started reading the book again. It read like Gone With The Wind — so smooth! It was a massive hot page-turner. The film does justice to the novel. It’s a perfect blend of David Mitchell’s story and the cinematic power of our three directors (Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer).
Cloud Atlas is regarded as a risky film with its own author saying that it was “unfilmable”. Was that something that played on your mind when you were offered the film?
Cloud Atlas is as risky as Inception. But the directors had immense faith in the film and so did I. 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. They wanted to do justice to the novel. Andy and Lana are known to make the impossible possible.
What was it like waking up every morning and transitioning from one character to another?
This movie went by in the wink of an eye as far as shooting goes because everyday we were either starting a sequence that was 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. It was incredibly fun and we got to shoot in some amazing places.
Cloud Atlas boasts one of the biggest ensemble casts that we have seen in recent times. How was it collaborating with each of the actors on set?
It was rare for all of us to be on the same set at the same time. We were all shooting for different stories. We would all try to meet as often as we could to catch up on the ‘happenings’ on the other story’s set. I had a great time working with everyone.
Two Oscars, widespread critical acclaim, some of the best roles ever written, so much achievedů what still keeps Tom Hanks going?
So far, it has been a great journey. As an actor, challenges motivate me. Being here in Hollywood for so long, I like doing and trying new things. With every movie, I’m evolving everyday. Success comes with patience, hard work and right decisions. I’m trying new things now like Broadway.