Halle Berry transforms into a white woman in 'Cloud Atlas.' (Photo: Jason Merritt, Getty Images/Warner Bros. P …By now, most everyone knows "Cloud Atlas" is a mind-bending, epic tale spanning centuries -- within which individual characters are reborn. Many of the leading actors in the film portray several different people in different eras, with different hair color, and sometimes appearing as a different race, even gender.
Halle Berry, who is biracial, and Chinese actress Xun Zhou do some race-bending in the film. Both of them portray white women at two different points in the epically long 2-hour, 44-minute cinematic journey, made by the creators of "The Matrix" and "Run Lola run" (the Wakowski siblings, and Tom Tykwer, respectively). Incidentally, South Korean actress Doona Bae -- who is getting a lot of buzz for her performance in "Atlas" -- also transforms into a white woman at a certain point.
Xun Zhou also transforms into another race in 'Cloud Atlas.' (Photo: Getty Images/Warner Bros. Pictures)
And Zhou's white character is the wife of Tom Hanks in the far future when the world has gone to hell. SPOILER: She and her family eventually get killed by a cannibalistic Hugh Grant.
[Related: Indie Roundup TIFF: The Wachowski's ambituous epic 'Cloud Atlas' plus 'The Iceman,' 'Byzantium' and 'Barbara']Along with crossing racial lines with the help of heavy makeup -- and in some instances prosthetics and eye contacts -- Hugo Weaving and James D'Arcy bend their genders by playing women. Weaving is especially memorable as the evil Nurse Noakes.
And Berry takes it even a step further: She plays an old Korean male doctor at one point in the film.
To make all the race-bending more fun, Jim Sturgess also transforms into an Asian character.