The faces in 'Cloud': Who's who, and when

October 24, 2012

One of the pleasures of Cloud Atlasis watching Tom Hanks and Halle Berry being given the freedom to attempt roles that are the opposite of typecasting. They both spoke to USA TODAY's Susan Wloszczyna about the challenges of their multiple parts spread over six eras.

Setting: A South Pacific tobacco plantation.
Setup: With gray hair and full body tattoos, Halle Berry is briefly seen as an old Maori tribeswoman held as a slave. Hanks is the malevolent Dr. Henry Goose, who intends to slowly poison one of his fellow ship passengers and steal his money.
Halle Berry: "That was one of those makeups I only had to do once. It was a six- or seven-hour ordeal. It didn't look like me."
Tom Hanks: "Dr. Goose is just this guy who turns out to be a sociopath. It was not the same brand of Vincent Price-y delicious 'Oh, I'm so delighted to kill someone.' The long arc of Dr. Goose was grueling," he says, especially the early-morning applications of facial prosthetics and a bulbous nose.

Setting: An upper-class household in Britain
Setup: Berry is Jewish/German aristocrat Jocasta, a trophy wife to sickly composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). Hanks is an underhanded hotel manager who blackmails a young musician (Ben Whishaw) into giving him an expensive vest.
Halle Berry: "Many of my lines got left on the cutting-room floor. She was like a ghost wife. She was there, quietly ruling in her own way. To get the skin realistically lightened was really challenging. It was layers and layers of makeup because real skin is more layers and very luminous."
Tom Hanks: "He was a low-level bad guy. He was a guy who was like, 'How can I use my position in my little fiefdom here for my benefit?' "

Setting: A California power plant that is harming the environment.
Setup: Berry is San Francisco investigative reporter Luisa Rey, uncovering a dangerous situation at a nuclear power plant. Hanks is whistle-blowing plant worker Isaac Sachs, who falls for Luisa.
Halle Berry: "I loved Luisa Rey. I loved that era, the '70s. I was alive then but I was young. If I could come back now at my age (she's 46) to the '70s that would be fun. You would think compared to the other roles, this one would be easy. But it was a challenge to find the reality, the element of mystery, especially after playing Jocasta the day before."
Tom Hanks: "I was trying to go for Robert Redford's brushcut. He struck me as the substitute teacher you had for a couple days in science class."

Setting: A London book party
Setup: Berry is an Indian party guest. Hanks is Cockney lowlife and author Dermot Hoggins, who abuses publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) and briefly locks eyes with Berry's character.
Halle Berry: "The moment where we exchange looks is one of those times that I think we all feel. You see someone somewhere, they catch your attention and you don't know why. Clearly, I don't think she would have been attracted to him. But there was some connection."
Tom Hanks: "The prop guy had a whole review of Hoggins' book that I quote from. It was the most brilliant thing."

Setting: A Korean chain diner in Neo Seoul where genetically engineered female workers serve men and endure their sexual advances.
Setup: Berry is unrecognizable as Ovid, an ancient Asian male doctor. Hanks is seen as an actor in a TV show based on the adventures of Broadbent's Cavendish, which plays on a mobile device.
Halle Berry: "That was my highlight, playing that man." Not even Hanks recognized her when he saw the film.
Tom Hanks: "That was 90 minutes of work and four hours in a makeup chair. We had a big discussion about what is the quality of acting in this TV movie. Is it really good? We came up with this: The actor isn't very good but he just got cast in this one-take TV movie. I am startled how much they made me look like Jim Broadbent."

Setting: Post-apocalyptic Hawaii
Setup: Halle is Meronym, an emissary from an advanced society of Prescients who hope to leave Earth. Hanks is Zachry, an oppressed goat herder who speaks in Polynesian-influenced pidgin English and gains spiritual strength when he encounters Meronym
Halle Berry: "She was the most difficult. She was supposed to be otherworldly. I don't know how to do that. But still it had to be rooted in some kind of reality. I spent a lot of time thinking about her and struggling with who she was. She is a Prescient but also wants to be part of this world with Zachry."
Tom Hanks: "Zachry was the hardest for me. Shame is a hard thing to summon up at 10 o'clock on a rainy day in Dresden. I remember saying, 'I get it. I'm getting there. Give me a second.' You go through an emotional trench and it ain't fun."

By Susan Wloszczyna

Source : USA Today