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Hugo Weaving, no stranger to playing multiple roles, will do it again (and again) in 'Cloud Atlas'

May 31, 2011 |  1:33 pm

Hugo Weaving, the actor who came to the attention of many Americans as the self-replicated Agent Smith in the 1999 blockbuster "The Matrix," will return to playing multiple roles in the upcoming film adaptation of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas."

"That's a project that's really exciting because all the actors will be playing more than one role," Weaving told the Australian Herald-Sun (hat tip to Slashfilm). "I actually have six characters in the same film and they are all different people in six different stories."

As a huge fan of Mitchell's novel, I admit I'm trepidatious about the news of the upcoming film adaptation. There are almost an infinite number of decisions that could go so terribly wrong. Some small, some large -- for example, can casting Tom Hanks possibly work?

But this multiple-roles thing, as crazy as it might seem at the outset, actually makes sense. As long as it's done with some subtlety -- and perhaps, if Weaving and the other actors don't overpublicize it -- it could really fit. I'm behind it, I think.

It's interesting that the people behind "The Matrix" -- the Wachowski siblings -- are also behind "Cloud Atlas." (They've added a third co-writer and co-director, Tom Tykwer). In the Matrix movies, Weaving portrayed Agent Smith, a character who appeared in limited, then seemingly unlimited, multiples. And the Wachowskis also wrote the screenplay for "V for Vendetta," adapted from the graphic novel, in which Weaving appeared as "V," a masked man fighting for justice. As a key plot point, "V" can't be identified because a vast crowd of people don "V" masks, allowing him to pass unrecognized among multiple versions of himself.

Seems like this Wachowskis-with-Weaving-in-multiple-roles is maybe less related to "Cloud Atlas" the book than it is to the way that the filmmakers and actor like to make movies. But I still think it can work. Do you?


Tom Hanks, we love you, but do you have to star in 'Cloud Atlas'?

Getting academic about David Mitchell

David Mitchell on the L.A. Times bestseller list

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Hugo Weaving takes a kick from Keanu Reeves in 2003's "The Matrix Revolutions," as many other Hugo Weavings look on. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures