A new featurette shows why ‘Cloud Atlas’ is an actor’s dream for Tom Hanks and the cast

One week until “Cloud Atlas” lands in theaters, and I still have no idea what the general public is going to make of it.

They seem to be getting the word out, and it’s certainly a hard film to describe to someone who doesn’t know the book and who doesn’t automatically get excited when they hear who made the film.  It helps that they have Tom Hanks attached, although I do wonder if he means the same thing to young audiences that he does to the over-30 crowd these days.

One thing that will help make people curious is by talking about the way the recognizable cast vanish into the various characters they play over the course of the film, and that’s something the ads seem to be emphasizing.  I thought it was pretty great that Hanks slipped into character on “Good Morning America” and almost immediately dropped an f-bomb.  I’ll have some video interviews with the cast going up next week, including one with Hanks, and one of the things I discussed with him is how people expecting a “regular” Tom Hanks film are going to be flabbergasted when they see some of what he does in the film.

I have loved Jim Broadbent from the very first time I saw him in “Brazil,” and one of the purest pleasures of “Cloud Atlas” is just seeing someone give Broadbent a wide range of things to play.  He is more than up to the challenge, and I think he does some of the best work of his career here.  I love those moments when filmmakers look past the way someone is normally cast and they use them in some unexpected fashion, like when Christopher Lloyd finally got to play a romantic lead in “Back To The Future III.”  Here, I feel like Broadbent gets to play such a range of types that it serves as a powerful illustration of just how great a character actor he can be.

We’ve got a new featurette for you today that will explore just how these actors approached the challenges inherent to the material, and next week, we’ll have more video interviews for you.  In the meantime, if you haven’t already read my interview with Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, please do.  They make the best possible case for their own film.

“Cloud Atlas” opens in theaters everywhere on Oct. 28.