Halle Berry and Tom Hanks in “Cloud Atlas”

*The plot of Halle Berry’s upcoming film “Cloud Atlas” is already confusing enough, but throw in the fact that she’s playing multiple characters of different races and genders, being directed by – not one, not two, but three filmmakers (one of whom just underwent a sex change), and that the story spans several centuries.

Somehow the finished product was so well received at its Toronto Film Festival premiere last month that it got a 10-minute standing ovation. [Watch the trailer below.]

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Not to mention, the film’s all-star cast – including Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Keith David, all portraying multiple characters of different races as well – took a huge pay cut to join the indie project.

“This wasn’t like a big money job for anybody. We were all there because we loved it and we wanted to be a part of something that was innovative and different,” Berry told us during weekend interviews for the film, which arrives in theaters Oct. 26. “If nothing else, there had never been a $100 million independent movie where, I mean, you’d have to have a lot of love and passion to make that happen because that’s just unheard of right now.”

Halle Berry as her 1970s character Luisa Rey in “Cloud Atlas”

The “Cloud Atlas” theme is best described in the three words written on one of its posters: “Everything is connected.”  The official synopsis says it’s “an epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present, and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.”

“Cloud Atlas” was adapted from David Mitchell’s novel and directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings Andy and Lana (formerly known as Larry). (A timeline at CloudAtlas.WarnerBros.com   moves from left to right and shows the progression of characters through time.)

Halle Berry as one of her “Cloud Atlas” characters – a white woman named Jocasta Ayrs, the rather kinky wife of a composer played by Jim Broadbent (R).

Over the course of the film, Berry plays characters named Luisa Rey, Meronym, Jocasta Ayrs and a male Korean physician from the future named Dr. Ovid. This guy makes Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” seem warm and nurturing.

“I loved them all,” said the actress and mother of four-year-old Nahla with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. “I have to say I did love being turned into Dr. Ovid. Never before in my life would I ever have thought anybody anywhere would hire me to be an Asian man for any reason. So that was probably a day that I felt like I’m doing something that’s unique and that I’ll never have the chance to do again.”

(L-R) Doona Bae as Sonmi-451 and Halle Berry as Ovid in “Cloud Atlas”

With the turmoil of a child custody battle swirling off set and nuptials supposedly on the horizon with fiancé Olivier Martinez, Berry says it’s challenging movies like “Cloud Atlas” that remind her of why she became an actress in the first place.