By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 13, 2011 at 11:40AM
I'm Just A Boy/Girl/Robot, Standing In Front Of A Girl/Boy/Post-Apocalyptic Tribesman, Asking Them To Love Him/Her/It
It might be difficult to throw a rock in a multiplex in the next few months without hitting a movie starring Matt Damon, Jude Law or Rachel Weisz (let alone Jessica Chastain, who has enough movies to play on every screen), but not every actor has the same work ethic. Some like to take their time over their films, picking only the roles that really interest them; Daniel Day-Lewis, for instance. Some stick fairly rigorously to a one-movie-a-year-policy. And some would rather do pretty much anything than make movies; in particular British star Hugh Grant, who's made no secret of his dislike for the whole actually-shooting-a-film rigmarole.
As a result, when he does make a movie every couple of years or so, they tend to fit into a particular formula -- namely the romantic comedies on which he made his name -- with fifteen years passing since his last serious film, the thriller "Extreme Measures." And considering how that turned out, we don't entirely blame him. Grant hasn't made a film since 2009's "Did You Hear About The Morgans?," and a good film since 2002's "About a Boy," although he's lending his voice to next year's promising Aardman animation "The Pirates!" But something seems to have gotten into Grant; not only has he just booked a new role, but in an entirely out-of-character move, he's joined the impressive cast of one of the boldest, riskiest, most ambitious films of 2012.
Screen Daily reports that Grant has signed on to "Cloud Atlas," the epic genre-blending, time-spanning adaptation of David Mitchell's acclaimed novel that "The Matrix" creators The Wachowskis and "Run Lola Run" helmer Tom Tykwer are teaming up for. Grant joins a cornucopia of A- and B-listers, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Bae Doona and Jim Broadbent in the project, which starts shooting on Friday, September 16th, in Scotland, Spain and Germany. It's worth noting that Hugo Weaving's name isn't mentioned in Screen's story; has Grant taken on the role originally earmarked for the Wachowski veteran?
Actually, there's no news on what role will Grant will take, but that's probably because there's likely to be more than one: Whishaw revealed recently that "Everyone in the cast is playing at least three parts, some big and some small... Everybody's swapping race and gender, so it's very ambitious and quite fun." With a story that spans a boat in the Pacific in the 1850s to a sci-fi dystopia and a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it seems likely that Grant will be stretching himself in some capacity, and we have to applaud him for getting his hands dirty for the first time in a long while, even if the concept of Grant in drag is a faintly terrifying one.
The $150 million-budgeted film starts shooting imminently, with each director heading up a separate unit, filming simultaneously, and Warner Bros will release the film in October 2012. Frankly, we can't wait to see even a tiny snippet from this one; it's either going to be some kind of game-changing masterpiece, or a "Southland Tales"-level train wreck (did we mention that the script is 230 pages long?...).