A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. To read my recent interview with “Cloud Atlas” stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, click here.
Oklahoma child actors play a part in movie “Cloud Atlas”
Siblings Raevan Lee and Korbyn Hawk Hanan spent three months on the set in Spain and Germany.
LOS ANGELES — Aspiring Oklahoma actress Raevan Lee Hanan will never forget the words of wisdom gleaned from working opposite Tom Hanks
“It was a great experience. I was so glad to get to meet him. It was amazing. He was so nice,” she said with a grin.
The 10-year-old played Catkin, the beloved niece of Hanks’ decent but cowardly goatherd Zachry, in the sweeping movie “Cloud Atlas,” the Wachowski siblings’ (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer’s (“The International”) big-screen adaptation of David Mitchell’s acclaimed 2004 novel.
Not only was it her biggest project to date, the film also afforded the girl some unexpected perks, including a small role for her younger brother and fellow actor, Korbyn Hawk Hanan.
“It was awesome,” Korbyn, 8, said.
“It was a great film,” his sister added. “When I got to see it, I was just like ‘Oh, wow, can’t the film just keep going and keep going?’”
From the time she was 3 years old, Raevan wanted to be on television. For the past two years, she, her brother and their mother, Robin, have divided their time between Oklahoma and Los Angeles while the youngsters have appeared in commercials, films and TV episodes.
“I had seen everyone on TV, and I was like, ‘Oh my, that looks like so much fun,’” Raevan said in an interview this week at the Four Seasons Hotel. “So we came out here, and I’m having a blast.”
“We didn’t expect to have a huge movie in less than two years,” added her mother. “We’re blessed.”
After years of hearing about Raevan’s acting aspirations, her parents saw an opportunity for her to pursue them when her father, Jay Hanan, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Oklahoma State University, had to spend a summer in California for a research project.
“He said, ‘If she wants to go and try, we’ll see how it goes,’” Robin recalled, adding the family recently moved from their longtime home in Sand Springs to the Oklahoma City area.
“Her first day of auditions, her manager had booked her three … and she got all three. Competition is high here, so it just didn’t make any sense. But God has a purpose for everyone, and it’s nice to know what yours is when you’re a child.”
The family turned down a TV project that would require the girl to move to Tennessee. But Raevan took the other two parts, including the lead in L.A. singer-songwriter Cazz’s heartbreaking music video “Mirrors.”
“Watching her on set and how much fun she was having and then how well it turned out … it was one of the those moments when you just start crying and say, ‘That’s my kid,’” Robin said.
Her other role, as young Rapunzel in a small L.A. theater group’s fairy-tale musical, got Korbyn interested in acting, too.
“Raevan first wanted to, but then I thought, ‘Well, that’s pretty easy. So I started doing auditions,’” he said. “I knew all the lines … but it was probably also all the action.”
The boy also landed a small part from his first audition, for “Crescendo,” a German film about Beethoven.
“They asked me to sing, I didn’t know what to do, so I sang … the ‘Star Wars’ theme. ‘Dah da da da,’” he said, laughing. “I was only 5.”
“The director said, ‘Of all the kids, we had to have the one that sang the ‘Star Wars’ theme song,” his mom added, chuckling.
In the “Clouds”
Korbyn’s charm also helped him earn a small part in the futuristic closing scene of “Cloud Atlas” after spending about three months on the set in Spain and Germany while his sister was working on the feature.
“He was getting ready to go home and … they said, ‘The directors don’t want him to go,’” Robin said. “They said they’d really like him to play the part of Adam’s (Jim Sturgess’ character) grandson … and I turned and asked him and he said, ‘They want me! Yes!’ They want me!”
Like the book, “Cloud Atlas” consists of six different interconnected stories that span centuries and continents, calling on the principle cast to play multiple gender- and race-bending roles. Raevan got to take on three parts, including a cameo as a Korean girl in 2144 Neo Seoul that required extensive makeup.
“When I was done not only could my mom not recognize me, but I couldn’t recognize me,” said Raevan, who with her brother is now homeschooled.
Most of Raevan’s especially memorable “Cloud Atlas” moments involve Hanks, especially when he shared between takes tricks of the trade about realistic reaction shots.
“I’d seen a few of his movies … so I liked him as an actor already and then when we got to meet him, I liked him as a person, too,” she said.