InStyle’s November cover girlHalle Berry, stars alongside Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, and a host of other actors in the ambitious epic, Cloud AtlasBased on the bestselling novel by David Mitchell, the film follows six interwoven storylines, spanning five centuries, in its quest to demonstrate how Everything Is Connected. Each actor plays a number of different roles, sometimes portraying multiple characters or a singular person in different stages of life. The transformations required heavy makeup, and InStyle.com caught up with James D’Arcy and Jim Sturgess (above left, with Hanks) at the Toronto International Film Festival, where they told us what it took to get into his roles. For example, for D’Arcy to play a young lover in the ‘30s, the same man in the ‘70s, and then an Asian man in the future, he underwent four hours worth of prosthetics and also shaved his head. “I was so amazed by how incredible it was,” he said of working with the makeup team—a crew of 26 people, at the very least. “Even though it was a long process you couldn’t help but be like, ‘You guys are geniuses.’” Sturgess agreed, adding that it helped his approach to filming. “Once the shell is in place, you have to go into the mindset of that character like any other character,” the actor told us. Despite its nearly three-hour running time, this tapestry of a film—from directors Tom Twyker and Andy and Lana Wachowski, of Run Lola Run and The Matrix, respectively—boasts a visual style that is nothing short of magnificent. See more of the actors’ transformations in the gallery, and click here to find showtimes near you. 

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— Erica Helwick, with reporting from Sharon Clott and Karen Levy