Tom Hanks: An actor with a mission | Sunday Observer

Tom Hanks: An actor with a mission

25 April, 2021

Tom Hanks, in full Thomas J. Hanks, (born July 9, 1956, Concord, California, US), American actor whose cheerful everyman persona made him a natural for starring roles in many popular films. In the 1990s he expanded his comedic repertoire and began portraying lead characters in dramas.

After a nomadic childhood, Hanks majored in drama at California State University and performed in summer stock in Cleveland, Ohio, playing a variety of classical roles. In the late 1970s he moved to New York City, where he had a small part in a horror film in 1980.

Hanks gained notice for his comic abilities as a costar of the television series ‘Bosom Buddies’ (1980–82). His work in the hit film ’Splash’ (1984) earned him leads in other comedies, including Bachelor Party (1984), ’Volunteers’ (1985), and ’The Money Pit’ (1986). He successfully mixed comedy with drama in ’Nothing in Common’ (1986) and ’Punchline’ (1988), and his portrayal of a boy in an adult body in ‘Big’ (1988) earned him an Academy Award nomination and launched him on the path to becoming one of the era’s most popular stars.

After starring opposite actress Meg Ryan in the romantic comedy Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), Hanks reteamed with her in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), both directed by Nora Ephron. He portrayed the drunken manager of a women’s baseball team in the comedy ’A League of Their Own’ (1992) and delivered an Oscar-winning performance as a gay lawyer with AIDS in ’Philadelphia’ (1993). Another Academy Award, for the phenomenally popular Forrest Gump (1994), made him the first actor to win back-to-back best actor Oscars since Spencer Tracy.

Serious roles

Hanks earned further Oscar nominations for lead actor for his dramatic performances in ’Saving Private Ryan’ (1998), which was directed by Steven Spielberg, and Cast Away (2000). Additional serious roles during this time came in ’Apollo 1’3 (1995), ’The Green Mile’ (1999), and ’Road to Perdition’ (2002). In the blockbuster Toy Story series (1995, 1999, 2010, and 2019), Hanks provided the voice of the animated cowboy Woody.

In 2002, Hanks starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, and he portrayed Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology, in the 2006 film adaptation of Dan Brown’s hugely popular The Da Vinci Code; he reprised the role of Langdon in Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016). In Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Hanks appeared as the real-life senator Charlie Wilson, who assisted the Afghan resistance to the Soviets in the 1980s, and he later portrayed a father killed in the September 11 attacks in the drama ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ (201’1). For the mystical epic ’Cloud Atlas’ (2012), which wove together multiple narratives, he took on six roles, ranging from a 19th-century surgeon to a postapocalyptic tribesman.

In 2013, Hanks made his Broadway debut in ’Lucky Guy’, a play by Ephron based on the life of journalist Mike McAlary, and he captured a Tony Award nomination for his starring performance as the colourful hard-nosed newsman. Later that year he returned to the big screen with ’Captain Phillips’, a drama based on the true story of an American cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009, and ’Saving Mr. Banks’, a comedy based on the efforts of Walt Disney to obtain the film rights to P.L. Travers’s novel ’Mary Poppins’ (1934). Hanks then portrayed lawyer James B. Donovan, who defended (1957) Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and later orchestrated his 1962 release in exchange for American pilot Francis Gary Powers, in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War drama ’Bridge of Spies’ (2015).

‘A Hologram for the King’ (2016), an adaptation of a novel by Dave Eggers, starred Hanks as a salesman who journeys to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to revive his fortunes.

Title character

Also in 2016 he appeared as the title character in ’Sully’, Clint Eastwood’s drama based on the true story of a commercial airline pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

After starring in ’The Circle’, Hanks reunited with Spielberg for ’The Post’ (both 2017), about publication of the Pentagon Papers. In the drama, he portrayed Ben Bradlee, executive editor of ’The Washington Post’.

In 2019, Hanks played another real person, Mister Rogers, in the biopic ’A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’. For his performance, Hanks received his sixth Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor.

Naval commander

He then returned to World War II in ’Greyhound’ (2020), a drama based on the C.S. Forester novel ’The Good Shepherd’. Hanks starred as a naval commander escorting Allied convoys across the Atlantic; he also penned the screenplay. His other credits from 2020 included the drama ’News of the World’, based on a novel by Paulette Jiles. Set in the 19th century, the film portrayed an itinerant news reader trying to return a young girl to her family several years after she was kidnapped by Native Americans.

Hanks also wrote and directed the comedy ’That Thing You Do!’ (1996), about a fictional 1960s rock band. He later co-wrote, directed, and starred opposite Julia Roberts in the romance ’Larry Crowne’ (2011), playing an unemployed man who enrolls in community college. Hanks also produced a number of films and such television miniseries as ’From the Earth to the Moon’ (1998), which documents the Apollo space program, and the World War II dramas ’Band of Brothers’ (2001) and ’The Pacific’ (2010).

In 2009, he narrated ’Beyond All Boundaries’, a documentary about World War II that used animation, archival footage, and sensory effects, including shaking seats; the 35-minute film was produced for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. He also wrote the short-story collection ’Uncommon Type’ (2017).

Hanks was the recipient of numerous acting honours, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award (a Golden Globe for lifetime achievement). In addition, he received a Kennedy Centre Honor in 2014 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.