Tom Hanks is the reason I started making films. I love this man and almost all of the films he has made. Actually, I’ve never met anyone who disliked Tom Hanks or his movies. To me, he is one of the finest actors living today. What makes him such a great actor?
Growing up, I didn’t have much of an exposure to other cultures — especially western culture — as I grew up in a very small town in South India. It was a homogenous population with similar values and conditionings. A couple of #Hollywood movies that I watched were Godzilla and Anaconda, dubbed in a regional language.
'Forrest Gump': Different Than The Rest
Almost 10 years ago, when I moved to a big city, I accidentally stumbled upon a DVD of a movie, about which I knew nothing. It was called Forrest Gump. It was different from all the other hyper-realistic Hollywood #movies to which I was accustomed. Immediately after that I watched The Terminal and Saving Private Ryan one after the other.
To me, one of the glaring factors that made all of those movies such a mesmerizing watch was #TomHanks. That was the first time I consciously noticed how a performance could elevate a movie to a whole new level and that’s when the bug of filmmaking caught me and stayed, for good.
Tom Hanks's Comedy: 'Bosom Buddies'
To analyze Tom Hanks, it is important to know that his on-screen career began with Bosom Buddies, an '80s American sitcom that centered on the misadventures of two single guys dressed as women in order to keep living in the only apartment they can afford. Hanks played characters with comedic undertones for almost a decade in movies like Splash, The Man With One Red Shoe, the infamous Big, Punchline, The Money Pit and many others.
The point is, he is really good at comedy, and he is an effective slapstick comedian. Selling a joke through your performance and body language is a very hard thing to do, and by the time he starred in Big, it came naturally to him. This is one of the reason why, when he shifted to dramatic roles, his entire body reacted to the situation, all thanks to his slapstick roots.
The Believability Of Tom Hanks: 'Captain Phillips'
Tom Hanks is great at making us relate to a character through certain subtleties that we encounter in everyday life. Great script and effective dialogue is every bit necessary to that relatability, but what elevates it to another level is his minor pause, a nose scratch or a head nod — things that we all do unconsciously in day-to-day life. I’ve never seen him go to extreme measures to give his characters credibility like some method actors do. Instead, he resorts to actually understanding the character and the character's quirks, reacting in a way that any rational person in that situation would react.
Another factor contributing to this instant relatability is that Hanks is extremely likable as a person.
Likeable And Real: Tom Hanks In Real Life
Be it an appearance on a late-night talk show, a radio show or an award ceremony, Hanks seems honest, with very little ego and sometimes even self-depreciating humor without seeming to be faking it. People who have met him in person, people in the industry, the press and fans alike unanimously agree that he is one of the most genuine people with a lot of humility. That genuineness is of incredible value, especially in today’s society, especially in the midst of all the lies and deceit spread by by politicians, celebrities and the rise of fake news through social media. So, Hanks's genuine personality is a rare commodity in a society like ours and earns an instant likability.
These bits of off screen information are important because people who watch TV and interviews in YouTube are the ones who also go to watch the movies and the moment they see Tom Hanks on screen, his character earns a likability that doesn’t need to be earned by the script and he uses it excellently by choosing the right scripts; by mostly playing an everyman, an underdog or a respectable American hero. Top it with a realistic performance by a person who truly understands and lives the character that he is playing, you get one of the finest actors that’s living today.
Tom Hanks With Shades Of Grey: 'The Circle'
All said, I have only one qualm with Tom Hanks. For all his excellence in acting, he has yet to play a villain. I’m not talking about a maniac like The Joker but a passive aggressive villain like Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs or the masterful Jun Kunimura in The Wailing. These kinds of characters would suit Tom Hanks exceptionally well as it subverts his instant likability against his own audience and it would be phenomenal to watch.
Check out Tom Hanks's upcoming role in The Circle:
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What's you're favorite Tom Hanks film? What kind of roles would you like to see him take on in future films? Let us know in the comments!