Tom Hanks juggles multiple roles in Cloud Atlas

Oct 26, 2012

Actor Tom Hanks arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Cloud Atlas” at the Chinese Theatre on October 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Devotees of David Mitchell’s audacious, mindbending 2004 novel have been eagerly awaiting the filmed version of “Cloud Atlas.” But how to film a story that weaves history, philosophy, science and suspense into six separate narratives spanning oceans, continents and centuries?

Filmmakers Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) and Andy and Lana Wachowski (the “Matrix” trilogy) chose to split up the directing chores, casting actors in multiple roles and subverting the book’s chronology. The result is a collage of eras and landscapes — from a 19th-century voyage through the Pacific to 1930s Belgium, from California in the 1970s to post-apocalyptic Hawaii — arranged thematically to highlight the book’s underlying message of a universal human experience.

Tom Hanks, one of the film’s stars, likens each of his six roles in “Cloud Atlas” to “a piece of origami. … You keep unfolding, unfolding, unfolding, so all of our roles, all of our characters, are made up of many other folds of the other characters that we play.”


Tom Hanks, actor, producer, writer and director, currently starring in “Cloud Atlas”

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