By Edward Davis | The Playlist May 12, 2011 at 2:30AM
While they transformed the landscape with the game-changing "Matrix" film, the Wachowski siblings Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) have truly failed, at least outside their hardcore constituents, to live up to their initial promise. Their follow-up films, "Speed Racer," the last two "Matrix" movies and most of the films they've produced ("Ninja Assassin," "The Invasion") during the aughts were major disappointments. Likewise, German filmmaker Tom Tykwer took the international film world by storm in 1998 with "Run Lola Run," but has failed to connect with audiences or critics with his subsequent films ("Heaven," "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and "The International").
And yet, all three filmmakers seem to have the capacity to light cinema on fire all over again which is why their upcoming writing and directing collaborative adaptation of David Mitchell‘s epic, massively-acclaimed novel “Cloud Atlas,” makes for one of the most intriguing and anticipated projects to be announced this year. The cast is shaping up to be a stellar one and already includes, Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw (from "Bright Star" and Tykwer's "Perfume"), Halle Berry and possibly Natalie Portman in what she's described as a small role (or more precisely, "nothing major").
Now two more actors are circling roles in the film.
Screen Daily reports that both Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent are in talks to star in the picture. Ian Mckellen was once loosely attached to the film, but with "The Hobbit" underway, he's surely busy for the next two years give or take a few months when he takes a break, and we're fairly certain that the Academy Award-winning Broadbent, known for roles in the "Harry Potter" films, "Moulin Rouge!" and outstanding work in Mike Leigh films like last year's "Another Year" and "Topsy-Turvy"), probably took Gandalf's place in the picture.
James McAvoy was once also in an early attachment, but he's since been replaced (most likely) by Whishaw. No word on who Sarandon might play, but this writer isn't very familiar with the novel (to the library!) -- but it's worth noting that it was announced yesterday that most actors in the project would take on multiple roles. Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer presented their vision for the multi-timeline fantasy film to prospective buyers in Cannes today. Focus Features International is handling international sales, with the picture recently landing private and public funding. It probably won't be an easy sell for Warner Bros, who have domestic distribution rights, in the U.S. It's not a tentpole, but we're incredibly enthused to see the Wachowskis biting into something that is much meatier material. It will be interesting to see what parts of the story each of the directors take, but we assume with the story following six different characters in six different time lines that the Wachoswkis will take the modern and two distant, post-apocalyptic future settings and Tykwer will land in the earlier three nineteenth century eras.
Perhaps this guy explains the project best -- Alexander Von Dulmen, head of the company's co-financiers A Company -- "This project has everything - fantasy, big adventure, sci-fi, that will really appeal to audiences in Russia and Eastern Europe. But it also has a story to tell. If this project works, I think it will show that more intelligent movies can be made, that there is a market for them." Sounds like they're hoping it'll be a four-quadrant hit...