Actors love a challenge, right? So the idea of playing as many as six characters across very different time periods -- from the 1800s to the post-apocalyptic future -- must have been exhilarating for Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and their "Cloud Atlas" co-stars, right? "I thought they were all a bitch, to tell you the truth! They were all tough," Hanks says with a laugh.
But in all seriousness, playing all those characters -- and putting on all the makeup involved in distinguishing them -- was far from daunting for Berry. "They weren't tough at all. Honestly, it was like the most fun to stretch. I got to play a white Jewish woman in 1930 -- like, when would I get to do that?" she asks. "You just don't get better than having to choose from all these unique people and characters. I'll never get to be an Asian man again, probably ever."
One thing Hanks definitely wasn't worried about was looking silly. That's something he stopped doing a long time ago. "I've had experiences on a number of occasions where we were going to shoot for something that was going to be very precarious and sometimes it works," he says. "Like 'Castaway' was a movie where we thought, 'We are breaking every rule here, is anybody going to give a s-- about this guy when he never talks and he's on an island and all it is about is falling coconuts?' Every movie is a huge minefield that you're walking, not if it's going to be a success but if it's going to be a cohesive story that people get. In this case they just threw so deep and it was so attractive if only for that reason, that you throw your lot in. Otherwise what are you going to do? Only make movies that are guaranteed to work? Well, guess what, we could be sitting here talking about 'Forrest Gump 6,' which is a lot better than 'Forrest Gump 5.' Who wants to do that for the rest of their lives?"
But the release of "Cloud Atlas" is a bit bittersweet, at least for Berry, as she worries she'll never do another film like it. "I think in my lifetime it's going to take someone to be wildly visionary and willing take the risks," she says of the independently financed $100 million film, directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. "Not to say it can't be done. I just don't know if the lottery will put my name in another venture like this."
Hanks agrees with the sentiment, adding that "Cloud Atlas" may have spoiled the actors, who have to return to traditional films now. "We are all spoiled because we always said this: 'The next time we're in a movie we're just going to play one person,'" Hanks says. "It's not going to be the same as playing all of these people."
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One of the six characters Halle Berry plays over the course of "Cloud Atlas" is investigative journalist Luisa Rey. So did the role give her any more sympathy for the folks who spend their time investigating her? Not so much.
"I think journalism definitely has a place in our society, especially good journalism, but I think we've also become a society where we're now focused on little children and what kids are wearing, and that is a hard for me to swallow," Berry says. "There are so many more important things to write about in life than what 4-year-olds are wearing, and showing kids going to and from school and doing their normal everyday life. ... I'm wildly frustrated by that."