‘Cloud Atlas’ team touches down in Seoul

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‘Cloud Atlas’ team touches down in Seoul


From left: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Bae Doo-na, Jim Sturgess and Andy Wachowski visited Seoul, one of six settings in “Cloud Atlas.” [Yonhap]

“Cloud Atlas” directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer and actor Jim Sturgess got an up close look at the setting for one of the film’s timelines when they arrived in Seoul to promote the Jan.

10 opening of the much-anticipated movie in Korea. For the fourth member of the group - 33-year-old Korean actress Bae Doo-na - it was more like a homecoming.

“It is fascinating because Seoul is one of the major places in the movie,” said Tykwer yesterday at the Sheraton Grand Walkerhill Hotel in eastern Seoul. “We are all eager to see how Koreans see the scenes in the movie.”

And Andy Wachowski greeted the gathered members of the media with, “Hello, Seoul brothers and sisters. We were going to cancel all press conferences to get out and see this beautiful city.”

Adapted from a novel of the same name by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” is a global journey of lives through time and space as the main characters meet and reunite from one life to another and strive to overcome oppression. The ambitious efforts of the Wachowskis take viewers on a five-century journey, from a ship on the Pacific Ocean in the 1800s to Cambridge and Edinburgh in 1936 to a future Neo-Seoul.

Bae’s presence has sparked interest from the Korean media and public in “Cloud Atlas,” a $100 million film with an all-star cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving.

“When I first got the script, I was just surprised to see the names of three directors on the cover page. I thought, ‘How could they come to know me?’?” said Bae.

“I didn’t speak English well at the time and the script was a little complicated. But after reading the Korean version of the novel, I thought I fit the role of Sonmi-451.”

Sonmi is a genetically engineered clone destined to spend her brief existence as a submissive restaurant server in a totalitarian society built atop the remnants of a flooded Seoul. Her life takes an ominous turn when she begins to nurture forbidden independent thoughts after meeting rebel Chang Hae-joo (Jim Sturgess).

The directors praised the performance of the Korean actress, explaining how they decided to cast Bae.

“Her conversational English was limited, but her performance was riveting,” said Lana Wachowski. “I first saw Doo-na in her movie ‘Take Care of My Cat’ and then went on to watch almost all of her works, including ‘The Host’ and ‘Air Doll.’ From the beginning, we thought that Sonmi’s role should be taken by someone from Korea, and Andy and I suggested Doo-na.

“She projected a sense of innocence, combined with strength. It’s like there’s nothing between her and the lens.”


One of six settings in “Cloud Atlas,” Neo-Seoul (left) plays an important role, as does 33-year-old Korean actress Bae Doo-na (center, right). Provided by New World Entertainment

For the actress who starred in two Japanese movies but has never appeared in a Hollywood film, “Cloud Atlas” was indeed a different world.

“Everything was new and unfamiliar at first. I wasn’t accompanied by my manager or agency people. I was totally on my own,” she said. “It was not easy, but the directors and co-stars helped me adapt to the new system.”

Shy by nature, Bae also tried to play a more social role off camera.

“When acting in the movie, I tried to be more active, joining dinners and parties with the staff and other actors. I might have bothered them,” she said with laugh.

“All things were new and I was happy to be part of such an energetic team. But it doesn’t mean that the way I perform will change. To be honest, I still don’t know what kind of changes the movie will bring,”

By Park Eun-jee [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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