Thomas Jeffrey Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor and filmmaker who is regarded as being one of the best performers of his generation.
He began his career in comedies like Happy Days and Bosom Buddies, where he displayed a flair for timing and physical comedy. Quickly moving onto film, he became well-known for lighthearted comedies like Splash and Big as well as romantic films. In the latter genre, he's famously one half of Those Two Actors with Meg Ryan, having starred as her love interest in three filmsnote .
Going into the '90s, Hanks' career took a sharp swerve as he began turning in critically-acclaimed dramatic performances, earning him back-to-back Oscars for Best Actor for his portrayal of the dying Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia and the simple-but-well-meaning Forrest Gump. Since then, his career has been eclectic, with his starring in films that run the gamut from comedy (The Ladykillers) and children's films (Toy Story) to heavy drama (Road to Perdition), science fiction (Cloud Atlas), and even his own blockbuster action franchise (The Da Vinci Code and its sequels).
Hanks is also a well-known space nerd and World War II history buff; these interests are reflected in his career, with his having starred in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Greyhound, as well as having produced From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific.
He's hosted Saturday Night Live ten times (his fifth time hosting, in 1990, was the episode in which the "Five-Timers Club" was revealed, while his ninth, in 2016, introduced his well-known "David S. Pumpkins" character) and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me once, to rave reviews each time. He also runs his own studio called Playtone, named after the music label in his self-produced film That Thing You Do!. He's additionally a big-enough fan of both The Beatles and Monty Python that he got to sing "The Lumberjack Song" (as one of the Lumberjacks) in the Concert for George, the memorial concert celebrating the life of George Harrison. He further appeared in the music video for Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" — contrary to many rumours, it was actually his idea to take the role.
And to top it all off, Hanks is the Trope Namer for Tom Hanks Syndrome, being the most famous and successful example of an actor being able to break away from comedic Typecasting and show the world that he really can act.
His filmography includes:
- He Knows You're Alone (1980) - Tom's film debut.
- Mazes and Monsters (1982) - Tom's first major role.
- Splash (1984) - Tomís Star-Making Role
- Bachelor Party (1984)
- The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)
- Volunteers (1985)
- The Money Pit (1986)
- Nothing in Common (1986) - Tomís first dramatic role
- Every Time We Say Goodbye (1986)
- Dragnet (1987)
- Big (1988) - First Academy Award nomination as Best Actor.
- The 'Burbs (1989)
- Turner and Hooch (1989)
- Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
- The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
- A League of Their Own (1992)
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
- Philadelphia (1993) - First Academy Award win for Best Actor.
- Forrest Gump (1994) - Second Academy Award win for Best Actor
- Apollo 13 (1995)
- The Toy Story film series
- That Thing You Do! (1996) - Directorial debut
- Saving Private Ryan (1998)
- You've Got Mail (1998)
- The Green Mile (1999)
- Cast Away (2000)
- Road to Perdition (2002)
- Catch Me If You Can (2002)
- The Terminal (2004)
- The Ladykillers (2004)
- The Polar Express (2004)
- The Robert Langdon film series based off Dan Brown
- Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
- Larry Crowne (2011)
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
- Cloud Atlas (2012)
- Electric City (2012)
- Captain Phillips (2013)
- Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
- Bridge of Spies (2015)
- Ithaca (2015)
- A Hologram For The King (2016)
- Sully (2016)
- The Circle (2017)
- The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special (2017) - Based on his character from Saturday Night Live
- The Post (2017)
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
- Greyhound (2020)
- Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) - As Himself
- News of the World (2020)
- Finch (2021)
- Elvis (2022)
- Pinocchio (2022)
- A Man Called Otto (2022)
- Asteroid City (2023)
Tom Hanks's career and works demonstrate the following tropes:
- Ability over Appearance: Aside from being white and male, he doesn't resemble Fred Rogers in the slightest, but there was not the faintest chance that anyone else was going to play the kindest man who ever lived.
- Cool Old Guy: In his mid sixties and as charming, likable and beloved as ever.
- Converting for Love: Although raised Catholic (and later as a Mormon once his father Amos remarried), Hanks converted to Greek Orthodox Christianity before marrying Rita Wilson.note
- Creator Backlash:
- Hanks felt this way about his film debut in a Slasher Movie called He Knows You're Alone, as stated in interviews many years later.
- He also poked fun at starring in The Terminal while hosting Saturday Night Live.
- Hanks also felt this way about Bachelor Party, Dragnet, and pretty much every other comedy film made during his "starving artist" phase of the '80s (Splash and Big being obvious exceptions!). There's a reason Tom Hanks Syndrome is named for him.
- When asked in an interview what film he wished he could remove from his resume, his response was The Man with One Red Shoe. He even went as far as calling it "a dog".
"Not a very good movie. It doesn't have any real, clear focus to it. It isn't about anything particularly that you can honestly understand. It made no money at all."
- When Tom Hanks was asked in a 1989 interview with "Playboy" to give his thoughts on "The Man With One Red Shoe", he had this to say:
- Doom Magnet: Origin of the "Never Travel With Tom Hanks" meme. Whether by airplane, ship, or spacecraft, going anywhere with a Tom Hanks character can end in disaster.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Penny Marshall convinced him that he should be "fat and sweaty" for his role in A League of Their Own, so he gained twenty pounds. He also lost considerable weight and grew out his hair and beard for Cast Away.
- The Everyman: A recurring role for him.
- Happily Married: Although heavily averted for Tom's first wife Samantha Lewes (whom he married in 1978 and later divorced in 1987), it's played straight for his second wife Rita Wilson, whom he's been married to since 1988.
- Kavorka Man: Lampshaded by Tom Hanks when asked in a 1986 interview with New York Magazine why he always found his average-looking characters hooking up with gorgeous leading ladies in his films such as Daryl Hannah in Splash, Tawny Kitaen in Bachelor Party, Lori Singer in The Man with One Red Shoe, and Sela Ward in Nothing in Common:"I think it's because there are a lot of writers who aren't very attractive but who are fairly funny and want to have sex a lot, so they write about these guys who are not very attractive, but they're funny and do have sex a lot. So I guess I'm the chief beneficiary of that. It's not like I say, 'I'd like to do this movie...but I've got to have sex more often'."
- Loved by All: Comedian Christopher Titus once put it best: "Tom Hanks has so many good karma points he could punch a nun and your first thought would be 'What did that bitch do to Tom Hanks?!?'"
- Nice Guy: Often regarded as one of the nicest actors in Hollywood. It's no surprise he was the perfect casting for Mr. Rogers.
- Once an Episode: As shown in this video, Tom Hanks pees in a lot of movies.
- Playing Against Type: While Hanks is known primarily for playing likeable and heroic characters, in Elvis (2022) he plays the loathsome, manipulative, and selfish Colonel Tom Parker.
- He's directed his fair share of films and TV episodes. His debut? The fourth season premiere of Tales from the Crypt, "None But the Lonely Heart". An episode well-beloved due to it's highly detestable lead, twist ending and his own small appearance in it. (And death scene to boot)
- Star-Derailing Role: The Bonfire of the Vanities was nearly this for Tom Hanks, so much so that he took a 19-month break from acting in order to re-evaluate his career decisions as well as spend time with his family. It also didn't help that his previous movie had been the similarly unsuccessful Joe Versus the Volcano. A year and a half later, Hanks returned to acting and redeemed himself with films like A League of Their Own, Philadelphia, and Forrest Gumpnote . Of course, the rest is history.
- Star-Making Role: Bosom Buddies as a tv star and Splash as a movie star. However, Big would solidify Tom Hanksí movie star power as it earned him his first Oscar nomination.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: The Trope Namer. The change started after his work on Philadelphia.
- What Could Have Been: Hanks was tapped to star in an English-language remake of Ikiru in 2003, only for the project to be dropped within a year or so. The eventual English version of the film, 2022's Living, would instead feature Bill Nighy in the lead role.