When Hugh Grant was recently asked if he would be interested in playing current British Prime Minister David Cameron in a film, Grant quipped, “I only ever play one role – don’t be ridiculous.”
The actor is obviously aware that his career has mainly involved playing the same British guy in romantic comedies (and he’s about to continue the trend with Bridget Jones 3), but this year we’ll see the actor in two very different films. He provides the voice of the Pirate Captain in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, and he’ll be seen in Cloud Atlas, the adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel directed by Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski’s.
Grant recently spoke to Empire about his decision to appear in “the biggest independent film of his career”, and what his six roles will involve.
“I have six cameo parts in this strange, ambitious film,” Grant explained. “I do a lot of killing and raping. I wear an awful lot of prosthetic make up, too. You probably won’t know that I am in the film! But it was a laugh. I thought before I read it that I’d turn it down, which I normally do, but I was interested in meeting the Wachowskis because I have always admired them enormously. And they are so charming and fascinating.”
Describing those six characters as “incredibly evil”, Grant explained that the Wachowski siblings’ decision to cast him against type led to serious soul-searching: “I slightly called my own bluff. In one of the parts I am a cannibal, about 2000 years in the future, and I thought, ‘I can do that. It’s easy.’ And then I am suddenly standing in a cannibal skirt on a mountaintop in Germany and they are saying, ‘You know, hungry! We must have that flesh-eating, like a leopard who is so hungry…’ and I am thinking, ‘I can’t do that! Just give me a witty line!'”
Grant said the footage he has seen so far is “astonishing” and it was “remarkable” how the directors shot different parts of the movie with their own crews.
The movie, which also stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, David Gyasi, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon, Chinese actress Zhou Xun and South Korea’s Doona Bae, follows six storylines ranging from the South Pacific in the 19th Century to California in the 1970s to a post-apocalyptic future. Most of the cast will be playing multiple characters, and they’ll be swapping race and gender.
No release date has been set for Cloud Atlas, but Warner Bros. is expected to release the movie sometime in late 2012.