James D'Arcy and Jim Sturgess Quizzed
We sat down with two of the stars of Cloud Atlas , Jim Sturgess & James D'Arcy, to quiz them on the Wachowski's mind-bending, super-trippy mega-epic.
Only YOU were in control of the questions.
We sourced questions from our Facebook and Twitter fans and fed them directly to the stars....
@skiesofscotland asked.... As you were tasked with playing multiple roles, did you prepare for the film differently than usual? If so how?
Jim Sturgess: I had two major roles so those are the ones that I had to focus on, the other ones I just had a bit of fun with. But it was really complicated to read the script so Tom Hanks ended up just ripping his pages out and putting them all together as a short story and the production team saw the idea and started doing the same. Each character required something different as well. For the Chang character it was mostly just learning the stunt routines, but in general you just tried to do as must preparation as possible because you knew that you were going to be bouncing around all over the place.
James D'Arcy: No, not really. The script was so strong that there wasn't a lot of research required! I played a futuristic interviewer in one story - so I couldn't really prepare for that! I wanted to be very respectful of the fact that I was playing an Asian though. Then for Sixsmith, I did watch a lot of David Attenborough documentaries because I liked his voice and thought that might strike the right tone. But apart for that not really! They actually suggested that I shaved my head for the futuristic character which was an idea that I liked. It was the last two days of filming and they'd dyed my hair blonde for Sixsmith and I'd tried to dye it back and it had gone horribly wrong - so it worked out perfectly. I actually had four haircuts during the whole film. The hair and make-up department was massive! Every day they were doing some mammoth prosthetic job on somebody.
@heartcloudatlas asked... There are so many memorable, beautiful quotes from the movie that people are tweeting about. Do you have a favourite line or moment from the movie?
Jim Sturgess: There are some amazing quotes! I never really got any of the really best ones. Doona Bae got some really amazing stuff as Somni and Susan Sarandon got some good ones. I got the very last line of the book though, which is "what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?" It was also the very last scene that we shot because Andy and Tom wanted to end at the end. It was such an important moment that encapsulated the whole film in many ways, so there was a lot of pressure to get that line right. It was the last day of filming and everyone came and visited the set. The whole cast was in tears because we'd been through so much making the film. I felt quite emotional at the time so all the tears you see on screen were quite real! I'd say the line and they'd shout 'cut!' and I'd wonder if we'd finished the film and Andy would just say 'No we need to do it again'. But it was just this really intense moment knowing that once I'd got the line right, the film and the whole experience had come to and end.
James D'Arcy: I have lots of favourite moments. I love the bit where Doona says that if she chooses to imagine heaven it will be one door closing and another one opening and then it cuts to Adam Ewing coming in and they kiss, I found that deeply moving. I also love the line: "I will not be subjected to criminal abuse" - gosh there are so many! A lot of the stuff that Ben says - which they've used in the trailer - about there being a better world is pretty cool. God bless David Mitchell, he's written some fantastic sentences in his book!
@MJFainty asked... What did you find were the main challenges when portraying characters of different ethnicity?
Jim Sturgess: There were various different ways of approaching that and a lot of it was just down to the make-up. Although I did start watching a lot of Asian cinema to get into the role of Chang and in particular a Japanese actor called Tony Young. I noticed the simplicity and quietness of how he performed which gave him a real strength and I wanted to find that for the Chang character. As for the Asian thing, it was interesting really because it kind of says a lot about racism and race and that it's all on the exterior. I'd put on the make-up and I'd look in the mirror and I'd look totally different, but once you looked away from the mirror, the way you looked became completely irrelevant. You'd just have to look into the character as you would any other. It was about the soul of the character and his story and what made him tick. I was more interested in the idea of falling in love with someone you shouldn't fall in love with and race didn't really come into it.
James D'Arcy: Just to try and be respectful, that was it really..
Paul Edward Montador asked... Did the whole concept confuse you during filming, jumping between time lines and characters? And was it as complex to film as it was to put together from a narrative POV?
Jim Sturgess: Well I only had two characters to really focus on, so it wasn't too bad. We mixed the filming up quite a lot, but we'd do a big chunk of Chang stuff and then some Ewing stuff. It was nice because we started the film where my story starts - on the boat with Adam Ewing. We did two weeks in Majorca and that was great just to get into the character because we did all the exterior boat stuff first, so spending time on the boat really helped me get into the character. It was before any relationships had been built because we'd only just started filming, so I felt pretty isolated sitting on a boat in the middle of the ocean in Majorca - which is how the character felt as well! You get those amazing moments when you're filming where you're all in period costume and the boat looks hundreds of years old and you sail out into the middle of the ocean. Often I'd just find a little corner and sit on my own, because my character's just lonely and craving to get back to a loved one, so you get these moments when you just look around and there's nothing to tell you that you're not living in the 1800s. That was special.
James D'Arcy: What was the first part again? Did it confuse me? No, because we only shot bitesize chunks at a time. Second part.. you're asking the wrong person really. It was probably quite difficult to schedule it, but that didn't really have anything to do with me.. (laughs) ..I only ever played one character a day so it wasn't that difficult. I think Ben played two characters in one day and he found it a little bit of an adjustment..
@digianolopez asked... I loved the movie - have you read the book it's based on and what do you think of the adaptation?
Jim Sturgess: Of course I read the book! I hadn't read it before I was given the part but I'd heard of it. A good friend of mine - whose opinions I trust - was raving about the book for ages so when the script arrived I was very excited. I read it a couple of times and I think the adaptation is amazing. It's almost the unfilmable novel, but the way that they'd pulled it all apart and thrown it all back together was brilliant. They'd also brought in new things cinematically that you don't actually get in the book which enhance the ideas and actually make it work as a visual piece. I think you understand more of what the book's trying to say by giving people multiple characters and pushing the idea of reincarnation. I've done straight adaptations before and you can only disappoint the people who loved the book because you have to take so much out. But.if you structure it in a different way then it becomes a new thing and stands up on its own.
James D'Arcy: I have read the book - I read it before I'd seen the screenplay and I thought it was magnificent. I didn't think it could be adapted, I think that really if it hadn't been for three such visionary people it wouldn't have been. Andy and Lana proved themselves in that regard with The Matrix films and whatever you thought of Speedracer, it pushed the envelope in terms of film-making. Meanwhile Tom has proved himself by adapting the book that people said was unadaptable! It's the perfect combination and I can't imagine anyone else who'd be able to pull it off. I thought it was the most beautiful script I'd ever read.
@RJWonder asked... How hard was it to try to link each character in every performance?
Jim Sturgess: We just had to not think too much about that really. It was the job of the director and the editors to make that whole thing as seamless as possible, but I was really lucky because I felt like it was one journey for both characters, although I'm not sure if the rest of the cast felt the same! Chang and Adam Ewing are essentially telling the same story and fighting against slavery in their own way. Adam Ewing's at the beginning of that fight and shows small acts of kindness towards a slave and centuries later Chang is this military freedom fighter, who very consciously makes decisions to change the course of history. They shared a spirit though.
James D'Arcy: I didn't even think about it. I assumed that because I was playing these characters, there would be the essence of me in there somewhere and that was enough. I didn't try and make any flow - apart from Sixsmith who is the same character. I did invent an amazing backstory for the male nurse though. I had a lot of time sitting around doing not a lot, so I thought about that character more than any of the others and decided he was an Elvis impersonator at the weekends who was not very successful and was now considering going on a binge-eating bender to get fat so that he might get a few more bookings as Fat Elvis! I haven't mentioned this to anyone apart from you so if anyone wants to go away and write that script we can do a spin-off!
Orapan Fon Suwanwattanakul asked... I loved the film as much as the book - which character would you like to play apart from your own? And why?
Jim Sturgess: We always said we wanted to make the film again and all play different characters! I'd have liked to play Dr Goose so I could have poisoned Tom Hanks, because he spent a lot of time with his fingers up my nose!
James D'Arcy: I would have quite liked to play a woman. Nurse Noakes would have been fun. I wouldn't have been anywhere near as good as Hugo, but I'd have liked to give it a go.
Wachowski Wow Factor
Gisela Diaz asked... What did you like most about working with the Wachowskis?
Jim Sturgess: They surprised me quite a lot. You hear all these stories about how they don't do any press and are very private, but they're so much fun. They're really playful, they have a great sense of humour and they really enjoy the social aspect of film-making. It takes a lot of people to make a film and everybody's there working hard, but they'd throw big parties for us and they generally created a really good atmosphere for everybody to work in.
James D'Arcy: I like how safe they made you feel. Safe to dare and f**k it up and really do something chancey, I'd love to work with them again - in fact I'd do anything for them!
@mdizzylizzy asked... Jim, Who choreographed your moves for the fight scenes in Neo Seoul? Did you find these moves difficult to learn?
Jim Sturgess: We had to do a month's stunt training before we started filming. It was kind of cool because it allowed me and Doona to have a friendship and connect because she didn't speak much English when we started. There was a German stunt co-ordinator helping us with the stuff for the film and it was crazy because you're learning a stunt routine for a month and then you see it up on screen and it flies by in 20 seconds! So it gave me a whole new appreciation for anyone involved in stunt work. It's not as easy as it looks!