This isn’t the sort of movie that we normally see Hugh Grant agree to make. The guy is drawn to romcoms of various stripes, with the last vaguely edgy movie he made possibly being the ’96 thriller Extreme Measures.

So it’s a big surprise — and not an unpleasant one — to see Grant booking a role in Cloud Atlas, the century-spanning, genre-hopping literary adaptation from co-writers and co-directors Tom Tykwer and Andy & Lana Wachowski.

Screen Daily reports the casting; Grant joins a core cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, and Jim Broadbent. Each of these actors, as we’ve reported in the past, will play multiple roles, and some of those roles may even have the talents playing different genders and races.

In addition to Screen’s mention of Hugh Grant, Variety finally confirms that Bae Doona is in the film, and adds Keith David, David Gyasi, and Zhou Xun to the cast list.

Cloud Atlas begins shooting later this week, on September 16, and has location shoots planned in Glasgow, Spain and Germany. As we’ve reported before, Tom Tykwer and the team of Andy & Lana Wachowski will each head up a separate film unit, though we have no clue as to which stories each will tackle. Warner Bros. will distribute the film in the States; we don’t have a release date at this point, but a possible October 2012 release has been mentioned. Don’t consider that even close to being locked at this point, however.

Here’s a brief recap of the book; see here for a lot more detail:

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

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