Grant: It was fun playing 'Cloud Atlas' villains

Hugh Grant said it was fun to bring out a meaner side in his on-screen persona while playing villains in the film adaptation of Cloud Atlas.

The Four Weddings And A Funeral star plays six roles in the cinema version of the critical and commercial hit novel and said playing killers and rapists was something he felt he had to do.

Speaking on the red carpet at a gala screening in central London, he said: “It was fun. In the first early days of my career before Four Weddings (And A Funeral) I did play quite a lot of villains and I haven’t done them for a long time, I got stuck in a rut of playing relatively nice guys.

“I suppose there were a few, like Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones, but nothing like this, these are killers and rapists and I felt I had to do it.”

The film, directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski, sees big name actors such as Tom Hanks and Halle Berry playing multiple roles across a huge period of time in an ambitious intertwining tale.

The author of the award-winning 2004 novel, David Mitchell, described seeing his characters and story on screen as “overwhelming”.

“Quite simply it’s glorious. I never thought it would happen and it has,” he said.

“There’s some great actors, people I’ve known all my life really. They are playing characters that just began as connections in my brain, just thoughts and now here they are.

“It is quite overwhelming when I think about it, so on the whole I don’t think about it.

“But it’s been great.”

Despite the smattering of A-list names in the cast, One Day star Jim Sturgess said the project was so unique that it felt like everyone was making their first film.

“You had a lot of actors from different areas – there were big Hollywood names and younger British actors, and great character actors,” he said.

“But it really felt like everyone was making their very first film for the first time because none of us had made a film like this before.”

The up-and-coming British actor praised the directors for pulling together the multiple threads in the story.

“Lana and Andy and Tom were very specific – they wouldn’t let you play any character just for the sake of it, there had to be some sort of connection to the other characters that you played,” Sturgess said.

The film uses a lot of prosthetics to transform its stars into a myriad of different characters.

Sturgess said he would often not recognise his co-stars on set, and that Grant in particular hated the heavy make-up.

“That happened (not recognising each other) on quite a regular basis,” he said.

“You’d sit down in the make-up chair and you would be sat next to someone who was having all kinds of prosthetics and make-up.

“Normally it was Hugh Grant actually, that poor man went through a lot of glue and sticky noses and all the rest of it. And he was the person who hated it the most so it was kind of fun watching him go through that.

“He was a moaner, he was definitely a moaner.”

The film has so far polarised opinion among critics, with some branding it epic, but others deriding it for being overly ambitious.

For Jim Broadbent, who plays five roles in the film, it is “an event”.

The Harry Potter actor said: “I think it’s unusual. People probably don’t know what to expect or they think they know what to expect and it doesn’t (come out like that).

“I love it and lots of people love it and I think there will be a big positive reaction and there has been a big positive reaction in some parts of the world and not others.

“It’s an event, it’s an event film, it’s a really exciting and different piece.”

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