Cloud Atlas has loads, and we mean loadsand loads of characters, containing six different storylines, each with its own set of principal characters and side characters. Basically, there's a lot to get through here.
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The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (1849)
"What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?"
Played By: Jim Sturgess
A lawyer travelling across the Pacific to get to San Fransisco before his illness ends him. His journal makes up the first and last chapters of the book.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: He starts off as having views that would seem quite racist to a modern audience, but were the conventional views at the time. However, he becomes a lot more moral and tolerant after his experiences and becomes dedicated to the anti-slavery movement.
Fainting: The heat and the sight of Autua getting whipped get to him.
Haskell More: There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive; if you join them, you and your entire family will be shunned. At best, you will exist a pariah to be spat at and beaten-at worst, to be lynched or crucified. And for what? For what? No matter what you do it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.
Evil Sounds Deep: Applies to all of Weaving's characters in the film, really. Except for one, but we'll get to that.
Faux Affably Evil: Though he initially greets Adam in a jovial manner upon his return, he flips out when Adam discards the contract by Horrox and gives a very arrogant Breaking Speech to him and Tilda.
Jerkass: Bigoted and proud of it, mean to his daughter and his son-in-law, the list goes on.
Villainous Breakdown: When Autua stands up to him right before he kills Adam, Goose's "friendly" demeanor drops and he flips out him. Later, during his tussle with Autua, he outright yells DIE! at him. Luckily, Adam kills him.
"Pain strong, aye....Friends are more strong."
Played By: David Gyasi
A Moriori slave stowaway on the ship upon which Ewing travels home.
Bi the Way: More interested in men than women, he still won't turn down the company of one.
A Bloody Mess: Despite his attempts to avert this, it happens anyway when Sixsmith cradles his dead body.
Driven to Suicide: The film opens with him announcing his suicide, although the audience doesn't know whether or not he's serious about it.
Foregone Conclusion: In the film, it opens with him saying he'll kill himself. It's not apparent whether he actually will until he goes through with it, however.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Manipulative, grandiose, feels superior to everyone, classist, generally inconsiderate about people's feelings - but also somewhat sympathetic to the lower classes, loves his brother who was killed in the war, and was horrified and Mercy Killed a pheasant that was badly injured when the car he was in struck it. In the closing of his final letter he notes his efforts to not traumatize the people who will have to find and deal with his body.
Ladykiller in Love: (Although he is a man killer as well.) He genuinely loves Sixsmith and Eve, although her rejection of him is not the reason why he killed himself.
Loveable Rogue: He's very selfish and manipulative, but is genuinely charming.
Robert Frobisher: Didn't think the view could be anymore perfect, until I saw that beat-up trilby. Honestly, Sixsmith, as ridiculous as that thing makes you look, I don't believe I've ever seen anything more beautiful.
Together in Death: "I believe there is another world waiting for us, Sixsmith. And I'll be waiting for you there." In the book, Frobisher meets him again as Luisa, but in the film, Ben Whishaw and James D'Arcy only play characters who either never meet or aren't in one story together, so Frobisher and Sixsmith never meet again.
"Composing is a crusade. Sometimes you slay the dragon. Sometime it slays you."
Jerkass: Insults and hurts the feelings of his guest Frobisher multiple times and then tries to take credit for his sextet.
Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: When he first hears Frobisher's composition, he's deeply moved, and there is a touching scene of them rejoicing in its beauty and you think the two will actually make a good partnership. He then indicates his intention to take full credit for the peace and blackmail Frobisher if he tries to protest.
Manipulative Bastard: Despite knowing all along that Frobisher had a scandalous background, he let him work for him anyway in order for Frobisher to come up with something brilliant that he could steal.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His Jewish wife Jocasta clearly has a few more year left on the clock.
Hot Scoop: As Hooks says in the film — if all female journalists looked like her, he might be a bit more concerned about the women's liberation movement.
Intrepid Reporter: She'll stop at nothing to get that report, even if it means risking her life.
Race Lift: Almost certainly, given that Luisa receives no remarks about her race in the book despite the Civil Rights Movement having only just ended, and her father was a very well respected journalist and cop to whites, which would have been impossible in his lifetime.
To Be Lawful or Good: Admits he struggles with this — getting Luisa a copy of the report would save thousands of lives, but at the cost of his job, or worse. He chooses "good," but loses his life for it.
Birthmark of Destiny: Although the book leaves it unclear as to whether he has the comet or not. Georgette called it "Timbo's Turd", and Cavendish didn't regard it as a comet, but as he is saying this while deliberately dismissing the concept of reincarnations, it's possible he willfully denies it.
Jerkass: He's quite politically incorrect, although most of his jerkish nature is left out of the film.
The Lancer: Serves as one during the escape of Aurora House.
Large Ham: He does things with flamboyance and over-the-topness.
Mean Brit: Even though he gets much nicer towards the end.
Noble Bigot: Not present in the film, and Cavendish is clearly unaware of it, but he's quite racist, sexist, classist, and xenophobic, and clearly expects the reader to agree. For example, he considers "reasonable woman" to be an oxymoron.
Oh Crap: He does a perfectly deadpan version of this when he and his compatriots can't find the keys to drive off from Aurora House.
Cavendish: We're done for.
Plucky Comic Relief: His whole storyline serves as this, and the book version is quite a bit more lighthearted when colored through Cavendish's voice than the film, which seems to almost be setting up for a horror/thriller—although there are notably more horrific things happening in the book, such as Noakes' drugging Cavendish to dementia and blaming it on a stroke.
Distracted by the Sexy: Briefly. When he sees the Indian Woman (Halle Berry) in the bar, his attention is focused on her rather than what Cavendish is saying. A nice little hint to when Hoggins and The Woman meet again as Zachry and Meronym.
Hot-Blooded: He's very eager and loud-mouthed, and flings a man off the top of a building for an extremely petty reason.
Adaptational Heroism: In the book, he's ultimately part of the corporate conspiracy. Not so in the movie.
Badass: Easily the biggest example in the movie, it's hard not to be very impressed by his feats especially in a film that is mostly framed around dialogue and human emotion. It's therefore not surprising that much of his stunts make up a disproprotionate amount of the trailers.
Beware the Nice Ones: She's usually subservient like the other clones, but when one patron performs a particularly lewd act, she flips out on him. She then quotes this line from The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish.
Yoona~939: I will not be subjected to criminal abuse!
Heel Realization: After hearing Sonmi's story from beginning to end, its implied he was on the receiving end of one of these.
Heel-Face Turn: Possibly. In a blink and you'll miss it moment, his name appears in a bible dedicated to Sonmi's philosphy read by Abbess. Additionally, when he asks Sonmi how she expects her martyrdom to change anyone's minds, she says she's already changed one, presumably encouraging him to spread her story.
Punch Clock Villain: He seems like a nice, fairly reasonable guy who just happens to be working with Unanimity.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Hears Somni out and despite what most of what she´s saying is borderline heresy in their society, takes her every word into careful consideration.
The Stoic: As his job is to archive the momentous event of Sonmi's ascension, he tries his best to be, but being young and inexperienced he often fails.
Not So Stoic: He seems absolutely devastated after Sonmi is done telling her tale.
Utopia Justifies the Means/The Social Darwinist: His "natural order" speech he gives to Sonmi reeks of this and serves as a nice echo to the words that would later - or earlier, if you go by timeline - be said Weaving's other character, Haskell Moore.
Boardman Mephi: I find it intriguing to imagine that beneath these perfectly engineered features, are thoughts that terrify the whole of Unanimity. I'm not afraid of such thoughts, because I do not fear the truth. There's a natural order to this world, fabricant. And the truth is this order must be protected.
Birthmark of Destiny: In the film only—in the book, it is Meronym who has the birthmark, and is the only one of the stories' protagonists who does not appear to be the reincarnation of the previous one. Especially meaningful as towards the end of his life he insists to his children that Meronym is Sonmi reborn, which she very well could be.
If Sonmi is God to the Valleymen, Old Georgie is the devil. He is said to exist atop Mauna Kea, which is, in turn, a feared spot for the Valleymen. He appears regularly as a vision to Zachry. He is dressed in old, ruined black clothes and top hat, reminiscent of the dress worn by Adam in the opening scene of The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing. Zachry believed that Old Georgie was the one who "tripped the Fall" before being corrected by Meronym.
Obviously Evil: Can't get any more obvious than green skin, black outfit, and a hideous face.
Sharp-Dressed Man: His battered suit is a subversion, and marks him out as a specifically post-apocalyptic version of the Devil.
Spirit Advisor: Of the Evil sort, naturally. He eventually starts to disappear when Zachry almost stabs Meronym, and when the Kona clan are chasing after Zachry, he appears to mess with him. Zachry ignores him and he is never seen again.