By KEVIN CHILL HEARD
The key to understanding the much heralded, book-turned-film “Cloud Atlas,” is to understand that everything is connected. Past, present, and future lives are spun and linked like a web of destiny.
Our particular link to this inspiring and massively thought-provoking film is academy award winner Halle Berry. The Cleveland native headlines “Cloud Atlas” with two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Together, they lead a stellar cast and story that not only spans 500 years and several different storylines but also allows the actors to portray multiple characters that involved each individual to cross lines of race, gender, and ethnicity.
Thanks to Berry, the Call and Post was able to get a chance to check in with our celebrated homegirl and talk about this heady effort brought to the big screen by filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski.
Call and Post: With you playing six different characters, did it feel like you were making six different movies?
Halle Berry: It didn’t feel like six different movies. It felt like one movie with six different characters. Honestly, it was the most fun [I’ve had] to stretch. I got to play a White Jewish German woman in 1930, like when would I get to do that?
Can you describe how that process felt?
To put on that skin [was incredible]. The fun part was we had these make-up tests that went on-and-on and it might seem like long arduous work. But, when you’re an actor, that’s the fun of it… to create something that you’ve never done before… to be a part of the process. The art department and the make-up department had these beautiful drawings that they drew of each one of our characters to present to us before we got there so they spent a lot of time thinking about it. But what the beauty was for us was that they allowed us then to say, “What do you think about this? Do you think this fits what you were thinking?” We got to take a nose from this and eyes from this and a chin from that. We got to be a part of the process which was so much fun.
So I guess this was a unique opportunity for you?
For an actor, it was like a smorgasbord. It just doesn’t get better than having to choose from all these unique people and characters. I’m never gonna get to be an Asian man again, probably ever.
How do you even film a project that takes so many turns and changes?
Stories are driven by locations and mine were all over the place. I broke my foot two days into [filming] and that changed everything, not just for me but for every single person making the movie. So where they had some idea of trying to shoot the movie in order, that went out the window [after I broke my foot]. We went back and forth to Majorca and then to Germany and back to Majorca. My foot got a little bit better and we shot some scenes on the mountain and I could climb a bit better. Yeah, it was all over the place.
How did you yourself keep up with the various characters you had to play?
Yeah, one day I was one person. The next day I was another person. I start off working with Tom Tykwer’s unit. The next, I’m working with Lana and Andy [Wachowski’s] unit. We had about 15 hours to know who we were gonna be tomorrow and get our head around “who that character is and where we are in that story and how many scenes have we shot and what scene is this gonna be.” And at the end of the day you have to forget about it and get into what tomorrow’s character is and what that’s going to be about.
One of your main characters was a journalist and I know you have had your issues with journalists and paparazzi. How do you see journalism changing, especially in Hollywood?
As we socially evolve everything is changing. We are in a time now where I’m actually having to fight to leave the country that I love because I’m unable to provide a private safe and secure place for my daughter to grow, so I think times are changed. Like there are actors that I admire, like Meryl Streep. She has five kids. Did you even know who her kids were? I think that journalism has a place in our society, especially good journalism, but I also think we’ve become a society focused on [celebrities] children and what kids are wearing. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. There has to be more important things to write about in life than what four year olds are wearing and where they got it from. They’re showing kids going to and from school during their normal everyday life. It’s such an intrusion and I think its taking advantage of what journalism is supposed to be. I’m wildly frustrated by that and realize that all I can do is remove myself from the situation, because I keep running up against a wall that says the only thing I can do is somehow figure out a way to change the Constitution. I smart enough to know that I probably can’t do that, so I have to take my family out of an environment that isn’t in their best interest. That’s a big way how I see how journalism has changed and has affected my life.
“Cloud Atlas” opens October 26, and is rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.
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