Here at Time Out, we’re unashamed of our love for the new movie version of David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’. Not only is it a madly ambitious, eye-frazzling cinematic folly on a scale not seen since the early ’70s, it’s also a rogue’s gallery of the most bizarre, bad-taste casting decisions in cinema history. Always thought Jim Broadbent would make a great blind Korean cellist? You got it. Reckon Tom Hanks would look better with a spot of biro on his face? Done. Always wondered what Hugo Weaving would look like dressed as Old Greg from ‘The Mighty Boosh’? Wonder no more.
And it only gets weirder from there. So every time you think cinema has no more surprises to offer, remember our five favourite ‘Cloud Atlas’ characters…
1. Nurse Hugo Weaving
‘The Matrix’ baddie Weaving plays the villain in each of ‘Cloud Atlas’s six narratives, but his most memorable turn is as the busty, scheming matriarch who lords over the terrified denizens of Edinburgh’s Aurora House nursing home. In this shot, he/she is about to be clobbered over the head by Jim Sturgess, playing a Scottish Paul Calf. Naturally.
2. White Halle Berry
While ‘Cloud Atlas’ skirts major controversy by avoiding blackface, whiteface (and, as we’ll see, Korean-face) are, of course, entirely acceptable. Here we see Halle Berry in her role as Jewish refugee Jocasta Ayrs, whose love scene with itinerant bed-hopper Ben Whishaw makes for one of the movie’s most unsettling moments.
3. Korean Jim Sturgess
The use of Asian makeup for white actors has, perhaps predictably, proved to be ‘Cloud Atlas’s most controversial feature. While admittedly disconcerting, it also adds to the intense unreality of the futuristic ‘Neo Seoul’ segment, as Sturgess’s seriously ‘wrong’-looking rebel hero comes to the aid of a troubled serving clone. As you do.
4. Irish Gangsta Tom Hanks
In ‘Cloud Atlas’, the ‘most bizarre accent’ award is a crowded field, but the winner, undoubtedly, is Tom Hanks as brutish, hard-living Irish author Dermot Hoggins. Imagine a combination of Ernest Hemingway, Fur-Q and Tom Cruise in ‘Far and Away’ and you’re about halfway there.
5. Cannibal Hugh Grant
Without a doubt the most insane, inspired, utterly unexpected bit of casting in the entire movie is Hugh Grant as a tattooed 24th century cannibal chief. As Hugh rampages about, gorily cutting down innocent farmers without so much as an ‘oh, gosh, excuse me’, our only complaint is that he’s not in it nearly enough. Spin-off movie!
Read our review of ‘Cloud Atlas’. And if anyone fancies sending in pictures of themselves dressed as Korean resistance fighters or 24th century cannibals, we’d be completely fine with that.