- Associated Press - Monday, October 22, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - Tom Hanks wants to be one of the Wright brothers in his next life. Halle Berry and Ben Whishaw would like to come back in feline form. Susan Sarandon wants to remain a woman, and she’d like a great set of singing pipes.

The stars of “Cloud Atlas” _ along with British author David Mitchell, who wrote the novel that inspired the genre-bending epic about souls returning and intertwining over the centuries _ shared their beliefs and disbeliefs about reincarnation as the film heads to U.S. theaters Friday.

Hanks himself doesn’t buy into reincarnation, while Berry, Whishaw, Mitchell, Sarandon and co-stars Hugo Weaving and Jim Sturgess either believe or at least think it’s possible that souls come back for an encore.

“I think there’s far too many reincarnated Cleopatras to buy into the notion that the exact person comes back as someone else,” Sarandon said. “But I do believe that this energy which can’t be destroyed when a person dies, where does that go?”

“I’ve met people that I know I knew, where I had no way of knowing them,” Berry said. “I think that comes from some other past-life connection. I never have been able to say, when we’re done, we’re done. I just choose not to believe that. I don’t want to believe that when I die, I just turn into a lump of dust, and that’s all there was to me. I want to believe that there’s a soul.

“I’ve seen people die before, like right before my eyes, and I feel like I’ve seen their souls just leave their body. And I believe it goes somewhere. I don’t believe it just goes off into this abyss of nothingness.”

Directed by siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), “Cloud Atlas” spins six stories spanning 500 years, with the actors taking on multiple roles playing the same souls progressing through the ages.

Here are their thoughts on their next-life prospects.


Hanks (interviewed alongside Berry): One of the Wright brothers. I’d love to be the first guy to see the earth from the sky. I think that’d be great. Either one, Orville or Wilbur. Who was the funniest? I want to be the funny Wright brother.

Berry: I’m going to choose an animal (Hanks rolls his eyes). Probably a lion. King of the jungle. Some animal roaming the earth.

Hanks: Let’s say I’m going to buy the reincarnation thing. I’m taking animals out of it.

Berry: Why?

Hanks: You have never seen a happy old lion, and I would like to be somebody who can be happy when they’re old. Old lions, you know what they do? They’ve got busted teeth, and they’ve got ulcers somewhere. They can’t catch anything. They get thrown out of the pride.

Berry: How do you know that?

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