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Although neither of the Wachowskis has spoken publicly about the matter, Larry Wachowski reportedly completed gender reassignment surgery in 2009 — which makes Cloud Atlas the first film where she is credited as Lana. Hugo Weaving, who plays multiple roles in the film, tells The Hollywood Reporter that its themes of transformation and rebirth were ones that seemed to make the project especially personal for his director.
“I can’t speak for Lana, but it’s something that’s always interested her, and obviously at a very profound level,” Weaving told THR during an interview for his current film Last Ride. “But it was a real treat to work with such an extraordinary cast, and sometimes in any one week you might be working on three or four characters. So it’s a slightly dangerous adventure we embarked on, because to be honest you don’t know where it’s all heading, despite the wonderful preparation. But yeah, it was certainly very exciting.”
An adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel, the film stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Weaving, each playing multiple roles – sometimes unrecognizably — in different locations and time periods. “[The movie explores] the idea of being reborn and souls being reborn through time,” Weaving says.
“What’s fascinating about the adaptation of the book was that sense that you get in the book about souls being reborn, a particular soul, and then they thought, ‘What if we bring back actors to multiple roles in these stories?’ So to take that idea and run with it actually kind of became one of the key propellers for the project.”
Weaving reveals that not unlike the film’s narrative itself, the various roles he played started to connect and influence one another as the shoot continued. “Because the film’s told in a sort of mosaic way, where all six stories are told at once, at the beginning of the shoot you’d move from one character to another,” he says. “But as the shoot progressed and it got towards the end, you were seeing more links between the characters. And indeed, there might be a cut from one of your characters to another character, so there’s a link between them.”
He says that though there’s not a specific throughline connecting the various characters he plays, each of them served a similar purpose in each part of the narrative in which they appear. “You’re fulfilling a particular role, so the six characters I play have a similar thematic arc, similar role to play, and as the film progresses, you get a strong sense of playing one [character] rather than six separate ones,” he explains. “So initially you’re feeling the separateness of the characters but increasingly feeling like they’re facets of the same being.”
Warner Bros. is set to release Cloud Atlas nationwide Oct. 26. Last Ride opens Friday.
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