Nice guys fin­ish first

Tom Hanks has made a ca­reer out of play­ing reg­u­lar blokes.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Bent­ley

TOM Hanks is all smiles as he strolls into the meet­ing room at the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel in Los An­ge­les. It’s not un­usual. Hanks has built a rep­u­ta­tion as one of nicest and hard­est-work­ing ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood.

This is the first day of a three­week pub­lic­ity blitz for his lat­est film, Cap­tain Phillips, which will take him across the coun­try and abroad. Later this year, he will make a sim­i­lar tour for Sav­ing Mr. Banks, which will keep him so busy that he doesn’t have another act­ing job on the sched­ule this year.

Dressed en­tirely in black, his hair is cut short, with only a few strands of gray along his neck giv­ing away that he’s 57 years old.

It would seem log­i­cal that an ac­tor who has won two Os­cars would pick his next job at his leisure. That’s not the case for Hanks, who looks at many fac­tors – the writ­ing, in­ter­est by the stu­dio, what di­rec­tor or other ac­tors in­volved – when de­cid­ing what he will do next. It’s not that he’s picky, but Hanks doesn’t want to put his time and en­ergy into a project that may never get made.

“You don’t go to the har­bour and get on a boat that’s not go­ing out to sea,” Hanks says.

That anal­ogy might have been spawned by all of the wa­ter work he did while film­ing Cap­tain Phillips. The film is based on the true story of the at­tack in 2009 on a cargo ship by a group of So­mali pi­rates, the first such as­sault on an Amer­i­can ship in two cen­turies.

As Hanks has done in so many films – from Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan to Cast Away – he takes on the role of a man who seems to be liv­ing an or­di­nary life but is pushed to do amaz­ing things be­cause of out­side cir­cum­stances.

Di­rec­tor Paul Green­grass says no one is bet­ter at play­ing “the or­di­nary man” than Hanks. That Hanks had been cast to play Phillips was one of the ma­jor rea­sons Green­grass signed on to di­rect.

“He’s not play­ing some su­per­hero. He’s not play­ing some guy with spe­cial pow­ers. He’s just a reg­u­lar guy. Tom Hanks is the great­est ac­tor for play­ing the ev­ery­man. Tom proves yet again – al­though it re­ally didn’t need prov­ing again – that he’s one of the great, great Amer­i­can ac­tors of all time be­cause he em­bod­ies the best of us,” Green­grass says.

Cap­tain Phillips is Hanks’ lat­est role based on a real char­ac­ter. He had such parts in Apollo 13 and Char­lie Wil­son’s War. Sav­ing Mr. Banks has him play­ing Walt Dis­ney.

Hanks sar­cas­ti­cally re­acts to the men­tion of all the re­al­i­ty­based roles, say­ing: “I’ve got to get out of this line of work and start play­ing fake peo­ple.”

Al­though both of his up­com­ing roles are re­al­ity based, Hanks’ ap­proach to each was dif­fer­ent.

“Phillips is alive and Walt Dis­ney is dead,” Hanks says. “Phillips is a con­crete source of ev­ery­thing: what he thought, what he did, what he’s like, what the job is like. With Walt Dis­ney, we are deal­ing with some de­gree of iconog­ra­phy. In one, I’m play­ing a his­toric fig­ure in a very spe­cific set­ting in which the scenes are specif­i­cally con­structed. With Richard Phillips, we are try­ing to cap­ture the essence of what was go­ing on in his head.”

He calls his por­trayal of Dis­ney “a clas­si­cal ren­der­ing” com­pared to his “emo­tional ren­der­ing” of Phillips.

Hanks sat down with Phillips twice – along with read­ing his book – to size up the man. What struck him the most was the sense of hu­mour Phillips has. Hanks is con­vinced that it was the one fac­tor that helped Phillips sur­vive the or­deal.

“He’s a very happy-go-lucky guy. I would de­scribe him as al­most jolly. He’s funny, be­mused by ev­ery­thing,” Hanks says. “But when he’s on the ship it’s all deadly se­ri­ous. His wife even told me that she doesn’t visit him any­more when he’s on ship be­cause he’s all busi­ness.

“We tend to think mer­chant mariners are go­ing to be cigar­chomp­ing guys, but Rich is an ac­com­plished pro­fes­sional. He earned this job, which is a b***h of a job.”

Much of the film­ing was done off the coast of Malta, an ex­pe­ri­ence Hanks found phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing. He’s no stranger to un­com­fort­able shoot­ing en­vi­ron­ments, hav­ing spent hours in an air­plane used to repli­cate zero grav­ity while film­ing Apollo 13.

Asked if he ever thought – while study­ing the­atre at Chabot Col­lege in Hay­ward and in Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity – that hav­ing an act­ing ca­reer would mean stom­ach-churn­ing events, Hanks says he’s never looked at any such re­quire­ments as a neg­a­tive. He re­calls how the first time he had an act­ing scene out­doors – in Splash – that he thought it was the coolest thing to go to work in a Speedo and a T-shirt.

Hanks has played mostly dra­matic roles in re­cent years. Dur­ing the early part of his ca­reer, he leaned to­ward com­edy with movies such as The ‘Burbs, Turner & Hooch and Drag­net.

Those days, Hanks laments, are sadly over be­cause the ma­jor­ity of full-blown come­dies to­day fea­ture young casts do­ing ou­tra­geous things. He feels like he’s reached an age – un­less Woody Allen calls – where com­edy is be­hind him. His main com­edy out­let now is the Toy Story movies.

And he’s OK with the dra­matic di­rec­tion.

“Come­dies are hard be­cause they have to be funny. And if they aren’t funny, there is no sub­sti­tute for that,” Hanks says. “Look, I’ve done enough. I’m 57. I don’t sit around think­ing, ‘I’d love to make a com­edy about coal min­ers.’ I don’t think that way. I just see what comes down the pike and see if I can fig­ure it out or not.” – The Fresno Bee/ McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Cap­tain Phillips is cur­rently show­ing in cine­mas na­tion­wide.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.