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The Wachowskis Finally Give Up Their Anonymity & Lana Addresses Her Sexual Transformation: 'Cloud Atlas' At TIFF

The Playlist By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist September 9, 2012 at 7:21PM

“Cloud Atlas,” the sprawling and epic adaptation of David Mitchell’s celebrated, heady and dense novel, screened last night at the Toronto International Film Festival. An unorthodox arrangement, as it was directed by the Wachowski siblings, Larry and Lana, plus German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), at a cost of over $100 million, “Cloud Atlas” is the most expensive independent film ever made (i.e. outside of the studio system and from a triage of financiers).
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Cloud Atlas, Tom Hanks, bald, goatee w/Broadbent

The Actors: "When I heard they were making a German blockbuster written in Costa Rica, I was in," joked Tom Hanks. “I had never heard of such a bodacious United Nations approach to making a film before.”
"This was a fully realized vision presented to us at the get-go,” Hanks said on behalf of the entire cast. “They were aiming at this piece of cinematic literature, and all we had to do was read the blueprint to understand that was expected of us. That sounds like all the things that acting in movies is meant to be."

Halle Berry said she was grateful that the directors thought of her, and she jumped in immediately. “What I take away from this experience, Lana and Andy speak as one person, their thoughts are the same, they've talked about this so long that the vision is clear. So there was a safety with that.”

“It's a fantastic source material, and a great adaptation of that,” Hugo Weaving said. The Australian actors said the entire cast had to take a massive leap of faith and jump off a cliff together because they were never sure if the material would cohere into one unified vision, but taking this risky adventure bonded everyone on set. “That leap galvanized everyone, and it actually made it fun, something risky and different,” he said. “There was always that sense of nervous excitement about going into the next day and the next character.”

Cloud Atlas, Jim Sturgess, Asian
The Wachowskis, who have been notoriously press shy in the past, said they had to reconcile their need for privacy with Tykwer’s eagerness to speak to the media. And in doing so Lana Wachowski, once Larry Wachowski, acknowledged her sex change. To a degree...
Though maybe she didn’t expect to address it in a press conference. “You knew it was coming,” quipped Tom Hanks when a journalist asked her about “coming out” in the recent New Yorker piece.

“I did feel some responsibility to the LGBT people, and a lot of people have been asking me to be more public,” Lana said, but explained the siblings' dilemma. “We love anonymity, we love privacy, we don't think celebrity does much to improve your life. It was a big decision, and it took a lot of years, but we have this movie, and a new sibling [pointing to Tykwer] who loves to do press.” She explained that a compromise was struck between their “no press” rule and Tykwer’s love of speaking to the media. “He can’t do enough press, our media-whore brother” she joked. “So we came up with this middle of the road [decision about doing press].”

Cloud Atlas, Hugh Grant
The appeal, for the cast, came from the screenplay.
Tom Hanks said the script, while multi-layered and abstruse like the novel, eventually intrigued and dug in its claws in a way that wouldn’t let go. “The initial seven pages or so of the screenplay raised questions,” he said. “It's like a hug that gets tighter and tighter. A lightbulb goes off in your head, and then the artistic struggle becomes evident.”

By the time he got to the last 40 to 50 pages of the screenplay, the actors said he understood that these were characters making a decision between cruelty and kindness. “I think it's a perfect blend of David Mitchell and the cinematic power of these three. It's not six different movies... it’s one movie that examines the interconnected nature of human beings through all of time. And it was worth it to see Hugh Grant as a cannibal walking around Babelsberg Studios during the makeup test.”

For those that missed it at TIFF, “Cloud Atlas” will make its U.S. debut at the New Yorker Festival later this month. The picture hits theaters on October 26th.

This article is related to: Cloud Atlas, TIFF, The Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry


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