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What The Heck Is Cloud Atlas?
Everything you need to know about the genre-bending epic

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The Characters...

Look out for each of the lead actors to appear in every one of the plotlines, from blink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos to much chunkier roles. These are some of characters revealed so far who will navigate us through the entwining stories.

  The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
Circa 1850
Letters from Zedelghem
1931
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
1975
The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
Early 21st century
An Orison of Sonmi~451
Dystopian near future
Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After
Post-apocalyptic future
Jim Sturgess Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess)
Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess)
Sturgess's experience on The Way Back should stand him in good stead for the role of American notary Adam Ewing, whose fraught Pacific voyage on the Prophetess sees him shunned by his shipmates and infected by a tropical parasite. He charts his journey, as well as the enslavement of the Chatham Island's Moriori people, in The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing.
    Drunk Highlander (Jim Sturgess)
Drunk Highlander (Jim Sturgess)
The 'Sturge is back in action in a very real sense and on home soil as a Scottish pub-goer who's involved in a Begbie-style fracas when Nurse Noakes leads a mission to return Cavendish and his fellow care home residents to their carpeted prison.
Hae-Joo Im (Jim Sturgess
Hae-Joo Im (Jim Sturgess)
In the sci-fi section, Jim Sturgess is part of a guerilla cell called 'The Union' that aims to bring down the totalitarian regime called Unanimity. Things to note: (1) he'll be on the run with Somni from some seriously bad people, and (2) he looks a lot more Asian than Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice.
Tribesman (Ben Whishaw)
Tribesman (Ben Whishaw)
A tribal pal of Tom Hank's Zachry, Ben Whishaw sports a lustrous beard as a valleyman in the prelapsarian Slooshin' section. He (and his beard) come seriously unstuck at the hands of Hugh Grant and his nasty-ass Kona warriors.
Tom Hanks Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks)
Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks)
The one man to treat the ailing Ewing kindly is Dr. Henry Goose – well, he is played by Tom Hanks – a medicine man who claims to be "surgeon to the London nobility". Goose doesn't share Ewing's enlightened view on life.
Hotel Manager (Tom Hanks)
Hotel Manager (Tom Hanks)
The smallest role Tom Hanks has played in the last 30 years and definitely the wartiest, his crumpled hotel manager is still a fairly pivotal piece in the Zedelghem puzzle. It's him who harries Frobisher for payment when the young musician is at his lowest ebb, and who ultimately shepherds him away to an uncertain future.
Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks)
Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks)
Another on the payrool at the Swannekke nuclear plant, Hank's conscious-pricked scientist is by his own reckoning, "Too cowardly to be a warrior, but not enough of a coward to roll over like a good doggy." Could he be Luisa Rey's way in to the sinister shenanigans afoot at Seaboard Corporation? Well, probably, yes.
Dermot 'Duster' Hoggins (Tom Hanks)
Dermot 'Duster' Hoggins (Tom Hanks)
Even in a film in which Halle Berry plays a white woman and Hugo Weaving appears as a woman, the sight of Tom Hanks chucking a man off a building will prompt some serious double takes. Then again, his character is a gangster type with a Fu Manchu tache and a penchant for gold chains, whose thick lit memoir is, literally, critic-proof, so perhaps that will clue people up.
Cavendish Look-Alike (Tom Hanks)
Cavendish Look-Alike (Tom Hanks)
Here's Tom Hanks playing Jim Broadbent in a movie of a screenplay from another part of the movie. Still with us? We're not. Still, the matryoshka nature of the storytelling is at its most intricate in this future-Korea segment which sees Sonmi-451 watching an old movie or 'disney' (note the Nadsat influence of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange) called The Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish.
Zachry (Tom Hanks)
Valleysman Zachry (Tom Hanks)
Judging by Cloud Atlas's trailer - which should be a decent barometer seeing it's as long as entire movies – Hanks gets most of his grittiest beats in the segment set in Hawaii after "The Fall", an untold apocalypse that makes Judgment Day look like a summer fete. When the patois-speaking tribesman isn't evading cannibals, he's got tech'ed up apocalypse survivor Meronym (Berry) to pass the time with. Unfortunately he's always evading cannibals.
Ben Whishaw Cabin Boy (Ben Whishaw)
Cabin Boy (Ben Whishaw)
The vessel that features in The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing has an impressive manifest of lemon-sucking scallywags. Scurrying up that mask? That'll be Jim 'Barnacles' Broadbent. Sluicing out the galley? Ben 'Water Boy' Whishaw. On this boat, even the sauerkraut has a BAFTA nomination.
Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw)
Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw)
After donning Q's funky anorak in Skyfall, Ben Whishaw will return to period climes (Belgium in 1931, to be exact) as Robert Frobisher, a musician with the ethics of Moriarty and the bank balance of a church mouse. His plan, to inveigle his way into composer Vyvyan Ayrs' affections, is faithfully recorded in letters to his friend/lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy).
  Georgette (Ben Whishaw)
Georgette (Ben Whishaw)
No, you're not seeing things: that is Q Branch, Ben Whishaw, as you're never seen him before, even in the more delirious bits of Bright Star. He's playing another role slightly bulked up from the book, Denholme's wife Georgette, a latent source of animosity between Denholme and his brother Timothy dating back to a marital indiscretion.
  Tribesman (Ben Whishaw) )
Tribesman (Ben Whishaw)
A tribal pal of Tom Hank's Zachry, Ben Whishaw sports a lustrous beard as a valleyman in the prelapsarian Slooshin' section. He (and his beard) come seriously unstuck at the hands of Hugh Grant and his nasty-ass Kona warriors.
Jim Broadbent Captain Molyneux (Jim Broadbent)
Captain Molyneux (Jim Broadbent)
Cap'n Broadbent pilots the good(ish) ship Prophetess – the vessel's name is in the book rather than the movie – on her Pacific voyage. As you'd expect from an old sea dog, he has a face that's not so much weathered as hurricaned, the swarthy looks of an man who could shiver your timbers with his eyes closed.
Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent)
Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent)
That composer, a vain and cynical man who still manages to inspire great things in his young apprentice, is played by Jim Broadbent. Author David Mitchell claims he's modelled on English composer Frederick Delius.
  Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent)
Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent)
The Victor Meldrew of vanity publishing, Timothy Cavendish finds out why his client Dermot 'Duster' Hoggins (Tom Hanks) boasts that nickname when he very publicly murders a London literary critic. Cavendish's life is turned upside down as a result, with Hoggins' goons after his lucre and only a manuscript of Half-Life: The First Luisa Rey Mystery to keep his spirits from flagging.
Korean Musician (Jim Broadbent)
Korean Musician (Jim Broadbent)
This is Jim Broadbent turning up again as a sci-fi busker on the streets of future Seoul. Trust it, it is. Really.
 
Halle Berry Native (Halle Berry)
Native (Halle Berry)
In a rare non-speaking part for an actual Oscar winner (leaving aside The Artist obviously) Halle Berry appears briefly as a Chatham Island native in the first story. She witnesses the flogging of a David Gyas's Moriori, Autua, in a scene where we expect the camera to linger longest of the pained features of Adam Ewing. Set eyes to 'peeled'.
Jocasta Ayrs (Halle Berry)
Jocasta Ayrs (Halle Berry)
The role of Ayrs' beautiful, straying wife Jocasta is taken by Halle Berry. Yes, she's white. Yes, there are prosthetics involved. No, it won't turn out like Lenny Henry in True Identity.
Luisa Rey (Halle Berry)
Luisa Rey (Halle Berry)
Berry, who'll be doing a lot of Cloud Atlas's heavy lifting, appears in the third story sans prosthetics as '70s reporter Luisa Rey. She's given a tip off about a potentially deadly nuclear conspiracy that seems to be playing out like a repeat of Silkwood. The tipper-offer? Rufus Sixsmith...
Indian Party Guess (Halle Berry)
Indian Party Guess (Halle Berry)
In the absence of Peter Sellers, Halle Berry appears as an Indian partygoer at the book launch that ends so badly for Cavendish (and a certain book critic). Hopefully, there'll be a small elephant and some pranks with loo role.
Ovid (Halle Berry)
Ovid (Halle Berry)
Bust out of her replicant-y existence by the Sturge and his Union buddies, Sonmi is deliver to Halle Berry's cosmetic surgeon who removes her collar and rejiggles her facial features to avoid suspicion. Unfortunately, as she later explains to the Archivist, the powers-that-be later rejiggle it back. There's a show trial, see, and she's the one they're showing.
Meronym (Halle Berry)
Meronym (Halle Berry)
Zachry's wilderness companion, Halle Berry plays one of the few surviving Prescients, self-appointed guardians of what remains of civilisation. Look out for a comet-shaped birthmark on her shoulder that recurs in other plot lines.
James D'Arcy   XXXXXXXXXX (James D'Arcy)
Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy)
The recipient of Robert Frobisher's letters from Bruges is a scientist and "musical oaf" who plays distant co-conspirator in his friend's (and lover) schemes. His ethics may be a little shady in this segment, but his dedication to science has a moral purity that sparks another narrative strand into thrilling life.
Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy)
Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy)
While Sixsmith is a significant but peripheral figure in Frobisher's story, his time comes in the Alan Pakula-style section which should be literally overflowing with assassins, shady villians, dodgy '70s 'taches, nasty execs and documents marked 'top secret', probably clasped in the sweaty mitts of said execs. He's graduated from young scientist to 60-something one with a secret in his troubled grasp.
Nurse James (James D'Arcy)
Nurse James (James D'Arcy)
Dishing out the pills at Cavendish's care home prison is Nurse James, played by James D'Arcy. Will he be playing good nurse/bad nurse to Hugo Weaving's Noakes? We'll find out when it's bed bath time.
XXXXXXXXXX (James D'Arcy)
The Archivist (James D'Arcy)
James D'Arcy fans set teeth to 'gnash' as the actor is shorn of his lovely locks as the archivist sent to interview fabricant Somni-451 in 22nd century Korea. It's an interrogation that, like the Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner, is meant to preserve the thoughts of an artificial intelligence for future generations via an 'orison' device. David Frost, he ain't.
 
Hugh Grant Reverend Horrox (Hugh Grant)
Reverend Horrox (Hugh Grant)
Went out and didn't notice it was raining? Tough, because Hugh Grant is getting his beouf on as a Belgian hostelry's security man and you're not allowed back in to fetch a brolly. This means Grant can add 'tough guy' to a list of roles that also includes a missionary, a slippery CEO and a cannibal.
Hotel Heavy (Hugh Grant)
Hotel Heavy (Hugh Grant)
Hugh Grant will first appear as faux-Darwinist scumbag Horrox, a man who like to have an entire race subjugated before his first bowl of morning sauerkraut. There have many evils have been propagated in God's name through the years, but those teeth take some beating. If Grant had been wearing them for Four Weddings And A Funeral, we're thinking there'd have been at least one wedding fewer.
Albert Grimaldi (Hugh Grant)
Albert Grimaldi (Hugh Grant)
Hugh Grant's first bad-guy role since Bridget Jones and one that's significantly more dangerous, Albert Grimaldi is the CEO of Seaboard Corporation and, ahem, Newsweek Man of the Year. How dangerous is this company? Well, they're a greedy '70s corporation and they run a nuclear power plant. They're not organising Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.
Denholme Cavendish (Hugh Grant)
Denholme Cavendish (Hugh Grant)
One day, a group of thugs associated with Hoggins arrive demanding his share. They tell Cavendish that he has two days to get $50K together. His accountant informs him that, after paying off all of Cavendish's debts, Cavendish only has two thousand dollars to his name. Cavendish turns to his brother, Denholme (Hugh Grant), for assistance. While visiting he sees Denholme's wife, Georgette (Ben Wishaw), with whom he had once had an unfortunate affair. Denholme hears Cavendish out before giving him an address for a hotel known as the Aurora house where Cavendish will be able to hide from the thugs.
Seer Rhee (Hugh Grant)
Seer Rhee (Hugh Grant)
Hugh Grant also pops up as the manager of Papa Song, the restaurant where Sonmi works. With its future-kitsch interior and the nefarious Nea So Corpos corporation dishing up the grub, it's a pretty far cry from your local bibimbap joint. Things turn a bit Hell's Kitchen when Grant's Seer Rhee is found suspiciously face down by Sonmi.
Cannibal (Hugh Grant)
Cannibal (Hugh Grant)
Look closely at this picture. Unless we missed the bit of Notting Hill where HE ATE PEOPLE, this role is a first for Hugh Grant.
Hugo Weaving Haskell Moore (Hugo Weaving)
Haskell Moore (Hugo Weaving)
The Aussie has played plenty of straight-up villains (The Matrix, Captain America) and shadowy characters (V For Vendetta), and Cloud Atlas gives him the chance to cover the entire spectrum in one go. While Adam Ewing's pa-in-law is not the most vile on show, he's hardly a laugh-riot either. That's him in the trailer muttering darkly about upending "the natural order of this world". That's presumably the same natural order that allows him to get away with those sideburns.
Tadeusz Kesselring (Hugo Weaving)
Tadeusz Kesselring (Hugo Weaving)
Originally named Tadeusz Augustowski in David Mitchell's novel, Kesselring is a German composer who professes to admire Ayrs' work but may have once cuckolded him behind his back. Hugo Weaving, the closest the movie has to a consistent baddie, plays him. Either Kesselring is named after a real-life Luftwaffe general or the directors just thought his name had a nice, ahem, ring to it.
Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving)
Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving)
Hugo Weaving – Agent Smith in a certain other Wachowski film we've forgotten the name of – is back on patrol as the spectacularly nasty Bill Smoke in this segment. He's a corporate henchman and Seabord Corp attack dog and will hopefully be delivering the line "Goodbye, Misssss Rey…" in a Smith-like drawl. Just for old times' sake, you understand.
XXXXXXXXXX (Hugo Weaving)
Nurse Noakes (Hugo Weaving)
A nasty careworker in the spirit of Nurse Ratchet or the hobble-happy Annie Wilkes, only much, much uglier, Nurse Noakes is the panto villain who makes Timothy Cavendish's life a misery in his Hull hell-hole (or Hull-hole, if you prefer). It's Hugo Weaving doing the honours in another of the film's gender curveballs.
XXXXXXXXXX (Hugo Weaving)
Hugo Weaving
Details unknown
XXXXXXXXXX (Hugo Weaving)
Old Georgie (Hugo Weaving)
Weaving's Old Georgie might look like Fagin, but it's souls, not pockets he's interested in picking. Tom Hanks' Zachry and his fellow valleymen believe that he's the devil, so his sinister whispers come freighted with significance. Scarier than Red Skull? Possibly.
Doona Bae Tilda Ewing (Doona Bae)
Tilda Ewing (Doona Bae)
Korean actress plays Adam Ewing's American wife in the first of the movie's many race and gender twisteroos. As her husband spans the south Pacific aboard The Prophetess, she's left to fret on the quayside (not literally, that'd be dull for her). Mrs Ewing doesn't feature in the book, an addition presumably designed to establish Adam Ewing's emotion connection to the mainland.
  Sweatshop Worker (Doona Bae)
Sweatshop Worker (Doona Bae)
Doona Bae is a Mexican working in an illegal toy-maker sweatshop in the '70s Luisa Rey storyline. She'll be there when Luisa and Joe Napier (Keith David) run through her factory, trying to get away from evil Bill Smoke.
  Somni-451 (Doona Bae)
Somni-451 (Doona Bae)
Doona Bae has appeared a film in which a giant monster attacks Seoul (The Host, fact fans!), but how will she fare in a brutally soulless future-Korea as a 21st century clone? As the trailer shows, she'll submit to an emotionally draining (for her and us) interview with the faceless corpocracy that's planning her disposal. As Hugo Weaving's sinister apparatchik puts it: "There is a natural order to this world and those who try to upend it do not fare well."
 
  Circa 1850
The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
1931
Letters from Zedelghem
1975
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
Early 21st century
The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
Dystopian near future
An Orison of Sonmi~451
Post-apocalyptic future
Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 missed another
Jim Broadbent appears near the end of the Sloosha's Crossing story when Halle Berry's ship comes to rescue them More

Posted by matsnowie on Sunday December 15, 2013, 19:08

2 You forgot all about some people...
Susan Sarandon is missing Keith David is missing David Gyasiis missing More

Posted by Montago on Wednesday July 3, 2013, 09:08

3 Ben Whishaw
Ben Whishaw also plays in "the first Luisa Rey mistery", as the seller in the music shop who's listening cloud atlas record. More

Posted by macha24 on Thursday March 21, 2013, 13:11

4 Run Lola Run
...it's actually NOT 'The Matrix'... More

Posted by Midgit315 on Tuesday September 11, 2012, 15:45

5 Bollocks
So now once I've waded through Cloud Atlas (it's fun don't get me wrong) I now have to read all David Mitchell's other books as well!!?? Can't wait! :) More

Posted by Guinevere6 on Monday September 10, 2012, 19:41

6 RE: What The Heck Is Cloud Atlas?
Urm, you guys might want to check out the Run Lola Run bit on page 3. More

Posted by MonsterCat on Monday September 10, 2012, 10:53

7 Goon likeness
Hugo Weaving (post apocalypse) looks awfully like the Zombie Priest. Knife to the eye! More

Posted by Varcolac on Friday September 7, 2012, 17:54

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