Hanks at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009.
|Born||Thomas Jeffrey Hanks |
July 9, 1956 
|Education||California State University, Sacramento|
|Occupation||Actor, producer, director, screenwriter, speaker|
|Spouse(s)||Samantha Lewes (1978–1987) |
Rita Wilson (1988–present)
|Children||4; including Colin Hanks|
|This article is part of a series on |
Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor, producer, writer, and director. Hanks is best known for his roles in Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, You've Got Mail, The Green Mile, Cast Away, The Da Vinci Code, and Captain Phillips, as well as the animated films The Polar Express and the Toy Story series.
Hanks has earned and been nominated for numerous awards during his career, including winning a Golden Globe for Best Actor and an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia and a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a People's Choice Award for Best Actor for his role in Forrest Gump, and earning the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film from the BAFTAs in 2004.
Hanks is also known for his collaboration with film director Steven Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal, as well as the 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers, which launched Hanks also as a successful director, producer and writer. In 2010, Spielberg and Hanks were executive producers on the HBO mini-series The Pacific (a companion piece to Band of Brothers).
Hanks was born in Concord, California. His father, Amos Mefford Hanks (born in Glenn County, California, on March 9, 1924 – died in Alameda, California, on January 31, 1992), was an itinerant cook. His mother, Janet Marylyn (née Frager; born in Alameda County, California, on January 18, 1932), was a hospital worker. Hanks' mother is of Portuguese ancestry (her family's surname was originally "Fraga"), while two of Hanks' paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Britain. Hanks' parents divorced in 1960. The family's three oldest children, Sandra (now Sandra Hanks Benoiton, a writer), Larry (Lawrence M. Hanks, PhD, an entomology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Tom, went with their father, while the youngest, Jim, now an actor and filmmaker, remained with his mother in Red Bluff, California.
In addition to having a family history of Catholicism and Mormonism, Hanks was a "Bible-toting evangelical teenager" for several years. In school, Hanks was unpopular with students and teachers alike, later telling Rolling Stone magazine: "I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who'd yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn't get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible." In 1965, Amos Hanks married Frances Wong, a San Francisco native of Chinese descent. Frances had three children, two of whom lived with Tom during his high school years. Hanks acted in school plays, including South Pacific, while attending Skyline High School in Oakland, California.
Hanks studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward, California, and after two years, transferred to California State University, Sacramento. Hanks told New York magazine in 1986: "Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant ...I spent a lot of time going to plays. I wouldn't take dates with me. I'd just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat and read the program, and then get into the play completely. I spent a lot of time like that, seeing Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Ibsen, and all that."
During his years studying theater, Hanks met Vincent Dowling, head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. At Dowling's suggestion, Hanks became an intern at the Festival. His internship stretched into a three-year experience that covered most aspects of theater production, including lighting, set design, and stage management, all of which caused Hanks to drop out of college. During the same time, Hanks won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his 1978 performance as Proteus in Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the few times he played a villain.
In 1979, Hanks moved to New York City, where he made his film debut in the low-budget slasher film He Knows You're Alone (1980) and got a part in the television movie Mazes and Monsters. Early in 1979, Hanks was cast in the lead role of Callimaco in the Riverside Shakespeare Company's production of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Mandrake, directed by Daniel Southern. As a high profile Off Off Broadway showcase, the production helped Tom land an agent, Joe Ohla with the J. Michael Bloom Agency. The next year, Hanks landed a lead role on the ABC television pilot of Bosom Buddies, playing the role of Kip Wilson. Hanks moved to Los Angeles, where he and Peter Scolari played a pair of young advertising men forced to dress as women so they could live in an inexpensive all-female hotel. Hanks had previously partnered with Scolari in the 1970s game show Make Me Laugh. Bosom Buddies ran for two seasons, and, although the ratings were never strong, television critics gave the program high marks. "The first day I saw him on the set," co-producer Ian Praiser told Rolling Stone, "I thought, 'Too bad he won't be in television for long.' I knew he'd be a movie star in two years." But if Praiser knew it, he was not able to convince Hanks. "The television show had come out of nowhere," best friend Tom Lizzio told Rolling Stone. "Then out of nowhere it got canceled. He figured he'd be back to pulling ropes and hanging lights in a theater."
Bosom Buddies and a guest appearance on a 1982 episode of Happy Days ("A Case of Revenge," where he played a disgruntled former classmate of The Fonz) prompted director Ron Howard to contact Hanks. Howard was working on Splash (1984), a romantic comedy fantasy about a mermaid who falls in love with a human. At first, Howard considered Hanks for the role of the main character's wisecracking brother, a role that eventually went to John Candy. Instead, Hanks got the lead role and a career boost from Splash, which went on to become a box office hit, grossing more than US$69 million. He also had a sizable hit with the sex comedy Bachelor Party, also in 1984.
Period of successes and failures
With Nothing in Common (1986) – about a young man alienated from his parents who must reestablish a relationship with his father, played by Jackie Gleason – Hanks began to establish the credentials of not only a comic actor but of someone who could carry a serious role. "It changed my desires about working in movies," Hanks told Rolling Stone. "Part of it was the nature of the material, what we were trying to say. But besides that, it focused on people's relationships. The story was about a guy and his father, unlike, say, The Money Pit, where the story is really about a guy and his house."
After a few more flops and a moderate success with Dragnet, Hanks succeeded with the fantasy comedy Big (1988), both at the box office and within the industry. The film established Hanks as a major Hollywood talent. It was followed later that year by Punchline, in which he and Sally Field co-starred as struggling comedians. Hanks's character, Steven Gold, a failing medical student trying to break into stand-up, was somewhat edgy and complex. Hanks' portrayal of Gold offered a glimpse of the far more dramatic roles Hanks would master in films to come. Hanks then suffered a pile of box-office failures: The 'Burbs (1989), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), as a greedy Wall Street type who gets enmeshed in a hit-and-run accident. Only the 1989 movie Turner & Hooch brought success for Hanks during this time. In a 1993 issue of Disney Adventures, Hanks said, "I saw Turner & Hooch the other day in the SAC store and couldn't help but be reminiscent. I cried like a baby." He did admit to making a couple of "bum tickers," however, and blamed his "...deductive reasoning and decision making skills."
Progression into dramatic roles
Hanks climbed back to the top again with his portrayal of a washed-up baseball legend turned manager in A League of Their Own (1992). Hanks has admitted that his acting in earlier roles was not great and that he has improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks noted his "modern era of moviemaking ... because enough self-discovery has gone on.... My work has become less pretentiously fake and over the top". This "modern era" began in 1993 for Hanks, first with Sleepless in Seattle and then with Philadelphia. The former was a blockbuster success about a widower who finds true love over the airwaves. Richard Schickel of TIME called his performance "charming," and most critics agreed that Hanks' portrayal ensured him a place among the premier romantic-comedy stars of his generation.
In Philadelphia, he played a gay lawyer with AIDS who sues his firm for discrimination. Hanks lost thirty-five pounds and thinned his hair in order to appear sickly for the role. In a review for People, Leah Rozen stated "Above all, credit for Philadelphia's success belongs to Hanks, who makes sure that he plays a character, not a saint. He is flat-out terrific, giving a deeply felt, carefully nuanced performance that deserves an Oscar." Hanks won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia. During his acceptance speech he revealed that his high school drama teacher Rawley Farnsworth and former classmate John Gilkerson, two people with whom he was close, were gay.
Hanks followed Philadelphia with the 1994 hit Forrest Gump. Of the film, Hanks has remarked: "When I read the script for Gump, I saw it as one of those kind of grand, hopeful movies that the audience can go to and feel ... some hope for their lot and their position in life... I got that from the movies a hundred million times when I was a kid. I still do." Hanks won his second Best Actor Academy Award for his role in Forrest Gump, becoming only the second actor to have accomplished the feat of winning consecutive Best Actor Oscars. (Spencer Tracy was the first, winning in 1937–38. Hanks and Tracy were the same age at the time they received their Academy Awards: 37 for the first and 38 for the second.)
Hanks' next role—astronaut and commander Jim Lovell, in the 1995 film Apollo 13—reunited him with Ron Howard. Critics generally applauded the film and the performances of the entire cast, which included actors Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kathleen Quinlan. The movie also earned nine Academy Award nominations, winning two. Later that year, Hanks starred in the Disney/Pixar animated blockbuster Toy Story as the voice of the toy Sheriff Woody.
1996–present: Directing, producing and acting
Hanks turned to directing with his 1996 film That Thing You Do! about a 1960s pop group, also playing the role of a music producer. Hanks and producer Gary Goetzman went on to create Playtone, a record and film production company named for the record company in the film.
Hanks executive produced, co-wrote, and co-directed the HBO docudrama From the Earth to the Moon. The twelve-part series chronicles the space program from its inception, through the familiar flights of Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell, to the personal feelings surrounding the reality of moon landings. The Emmy Award-winning project was, at US$68 million, one of the most expensive ventures taken for television.
Hanks' next project was no less expensive. For Saving Private Ryan he teamed up with Steven Spielberg to make a film about a search through war-torn France after D-Day to bring back a soldier. It earned the praise and respect of the film community, critics, and the general public. It was labeled one of the finest war films ever made and earned Spielberg his second Academy Award for direction, and Hanks another Best Actor nomination. Later in 1998, Hanks re-teamed with his Sleepless in Seattle co-star Meg Ryan for You've Got Mail, a remake of 1940's The Shop Around the Corner.
In 1999, Hanks starred in an adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Green Mile. He also returned as the voice of Woody in Toy Story 2. The following year he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of a marooned FedEx systems analyst in Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away. In 2001, Hanks helped direct and produce the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. He also appeared in the September 11 television special America: A Tribute to Heroes and the documentary Rescued From the Closet.
Next he teamed up with American Beauty director Sam Mendes for the adaptation of Max Allan Collins's and Richard Piers Rayner's graphic novel Road to Perdition, in which he played an anti-hero role as a hitman on the run with his son. That same year, Hanks collaborated with director Spielberg again, starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit crime comedy Catch Me If You Can, based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. The same year, Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson produced the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In August 2007, he along with co-producers Rita Wilson and Gary Goetzman, and writer and star Nia Vardalos, initiated a legal action against the production company Gold Circle Films for their share of profits from the movie. At the age of 45, he became the youngest ever recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award on June 12, 2002.
In 2004, he appeared in three films: The Coen brothers' The Ladykillers, another Spielberg film, The Terminal, and The Polar Express, a family film from Robert Zemeckis. In a USA Weekend interview, Hanks talked about how he chooses projects: "[Since] A League of Their Own, it can't be just another movie for me. It has to get me going somehow.... There has to be some all-encompassing desire or feeling about wanting to do that particular movie. I'd like to assume that I'm willing to go down any avenue in order to do it right". In August 2005, Hanks was voted in as vice president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hanks next starred in the highly anticipated film The Da Vinci Code, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown. The film was released May 19, 2006 in the US and grossed over US$750 million worldwide. He followed the film with Ken Burns's 2007 documentary The War. For the documentary, Hanks did voice work, reading excerpts from World War II-era columns by Al McIntosh. In 2006, Hanks topped a 1,500-strong list of 'most trusted celebrities' compiled by Forbes magazine. Hanks next appeared in a cameo role as himself in The Simpsons Movie, in which he appeared in an advertisement claiming that the U.S. government has lost its credibility and is hence buying some of his. He also made an appearance in the credits, expressing a desire to be left alone when he is out in public. Later in 2006, Hanks produced the British film Starter for Ten, a comedy based on working class students attempting to win University Challenge.
In 2007, Hanks starred in Mike Nichols's film Charlie Wilson's War (written by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin) in which he plays Democratic Texas Congressman Charles Wilson. The film opened on December 21, 2007, and Hanks received a Golden Globe nomination.
In 2008's The Great Buck Howard, Hanks played the on-screen father of a young man (Hanks' real-life son, Colin Hanks) who chooses to follow in the footsteps of a fading magician (John Malkovich). Tom Hanks' character was less than thrilled about his son's career decision.
Hanks' next endeavor, released on May 15, 2009, was a film adaptation of Angels & Demons, based on the novel of the same name by Dan Brown. Its April 11, 2007, announcement revealed that Hanks would reprise his role as Robert Langdon, and that he would reportedly receive the highest salary ever for an actor. The following day he made his 10th appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live, impersonating himself for the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch.
In 2011, he directed and starred opposite Julia Roberts in the title role in the romantic comedy Larry Crowne. The movie has received generally bad reviews with only 35% of the 175 Rotten Tomatoes reviews giving it high ratings. Also in 2011, he starred in the drama film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
In 2013, Hanks starred with Barkhad Abdi in the film Captain Phillips, based on the Maersk Alabama hijacking as Captain Richard Phillips, and played Walt Disney in the film Saving Mr. Banks, costarring Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell, and directed by John Lee Hancock. Hanks is the first actor to portray Disney in film.
He is ranked as the highest all time box office star with over $3.639 billion total box office gross, an average of $107 million per film. He has been involved with seventeen films that grossed over $100 million at the worldwide box office, the highest grossing of which was 2010's Toy Story 3.
Hanks was married to American actress Samantha Lewes from 1978 until 1987, when they divorced. The couple had two children, son Colin Hanks (born 1977), also an actor, and daughter Elizabeth Ann (born 1982).
In 1988, Hanks married actress Rita Wilson. The two first met on the set of Hanks's television show Bosom Buddies but later developed a romantic interest while working on the film Volunteers. They have two sons: Chester, or "Chet" Marlon (born 1990) who has a small part as a student in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and released a rap single in 2011, and Truman Theodore (born 1995).
Regarding his religious views, Hanks has said, "I must say that when I go to church—and I do go to church—I ponder the mystery. I meditate on the 'why?' of 'Why people are as they are' and 'Why bad things happen to good people,' and 'Why good things happen to bad people'... The mystery is what I think it is, almost, the grand unifying theory of mankind."
Hanks has made donations to many Democratic politicians and has been open about his support for same-sex marriage, environmental causes, and alternative fuels. Hanks made public his presidential candidate choice in the 2008 election when he uploaded a video to his MySpace account in which he announced his endorsement of Barack Obama.
A proponent of environmentalism, Hanks is an investor in electric vehicles and owns both a Toyota RAV4 EV and the first production AC Propulsion eBox. Hanks was a lessee of an EV1 before it was recalled, as chronicled in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? He was on the waiting list for an Aptera 2 Series.
Hanks was extremely outspoken about his opposition to the 2008 Proposition 8, an amendment to the California constitution that defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. Hanks and others who were in opposition to the proposition raised over US$44 million in contrast to the supporters' $39 million, but Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote.
While premiering a TV series in January 2009, Hanks called supporters of Proposition 8 "un-American" and criticized the LDS (Mormon) church members, who were major proponents of the bill, for their views on marriage and their role in supporting the bill. About a week later, Hanks apologized for the remark, saying that nothing is more American than voting one's conscience.
A supporter of NASA's manned space program, Hanks has said that he originally wanted to be an astronaut but "didn't have the math." Hanks is a member of the National Space Society, serving on the Board of Governors of the nonprofit educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher Von Braun. He also produced the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon about the Apollo program to send astronauts to the moon.
In addition, Hanks co-wrote and co-produced Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, an IMAX film about the moon landings. Hanks also provided the voice over for the premiere of the show Passport to the Universe at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
In 2006, the Space Foundation awarded Hanks the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs.
In June 2006, Hanks was inducted as an honorary member of the United States Army Rangers Hall of Fame for his accurate portrayal of a Captain in the movie Saving Private Ryan; Hanks, who was unable to attend the induction ceremony, was the first actor to receive such an honor. In addition to his role in Saving Private Ryan, Hanks was cited for serving as the national spokesperson for the World War II Memorial Campaign, for being the honorary chairperson of the D-Day Museum Capital Campaign, and for his role in writing and helping to produce the Emmy Award-winning miniseries, Band of Brothers.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tom Hanks.|
- Tom Hanks at the Internet Movie Database
- Tom Hanks on Twitter
- Tom Hanks' Facebook Page
- Tom Hanks's channel on YouTube
- Tom Hanks's thoughts on Earth Day 2006
- Interview from 1989 issue of Film Comment