5 Basic Facts About Tom Hanks 

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  • 5 Basic Facts About Tom Hanks 

    From Forrest Gump to Mr. Rogers; memorable performance after memorable performance.

    (by Jim Webb)


    (Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies)

    Tom Hanks is an extraordinarily versatile actor. 

    Consider his range: his ability to go from romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle to gritty war films like Saving Private Ryan.

    Consider his ability to accurately portray well-known public figures like television’s Mr. Rogers and complex, fictional characters like Forrest Gump. Or what about his ability to make both a weighty film like Bridge of Spies and a lighthearted film like Toy Story, and make them both interesting to audiences.

  • Here are 5 basic facts about Tom Hanks and his acting career:

    #1: Hanks Began His Acting Journey by Performing in School Plays

    Thomas Jeffrey Hanks (born July 9, 1956), from Concord, California, began acting early in life, performing in plays while attending high school in Oakland, California.


    “It [acting] is always a battle against self-consciousness. It’s hard to get past the realization that you’re pretending to be somebody and people are looking at you, even if it’s the crew.”

    (Tom Hanks)


    He eventually moved on to study theatre at Chabot College, and later, at California State University, Sacramento.

    To get even more hands-on experience, Hanks dropped out of college to become an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • #2: Tom Hanks’ Breakthrough Was One “Big” “Splash”

    (Tom Hanks in Splash)

    Hanks found roles in films like He Knows You’re Alone (1980) and on television shows like Happy Days.

    But it wasn’t until the mid-1980’s when he truly made a big “Splash”. In 1984, Hanks began working on Splash, a romantic comedy where Hanks’ character, Allen Bauer, falls in love with a mermaid, Madison, played by Daryl Hannah.

    The film was a surprise hit, grossing almost $70 million, a large haul at the time. It went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and catapulted Hanks to the A-list.

    Hanks soon followed Splash with Big (1988), a comedy about a young boy who wishes to be “big” and becomes an adult overnight. Hanks’ performance earned him his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.

  • #3: Hanks Established Himself as a Leading Man in the 1990’s

    (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump)

    While the mid-to-late 80’s saw the rise of Tom Hanks, with his penchant for box office success, it was in the 1990’s where Tom Hanks established himself as a true leading man, demonstrating the ability to serve both comedy and drama-seeking audiences.

    Some of his stand out roles included:

    * Andy Becket, a gay lawyer suffering from AIDS in Philadelphia (1993)

    * Sam Baldwin, a widower starting a new life in Seattle in Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

    * Forrest Gump, a kind, yet slow-witted man who has a habit of finding himself in important, historical events, in Forrest Gump (1994).

    * Jim Lovell, commander of an aborted 1970 lunar mission in Apollo 13 (1995).

    * John H. Miller, a US Army Rangers Captain in search of Private First Class James Francis Ryan in Saving Private Ryan (1999).

  • #4: Hanks Has Been Nominated for Six Academy Awards 

    (Tom Hanks in Castaway)

    Tom Hanks is one of the only actors to win two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor, winning for Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994).

    In all, he’s been nominated for six Oscars:

    *Big (1989)

    *Philadelphia (1993)

    *Forrest Gump (1994)

    *Saving Private Ryan (1999)

    *Castaway (2000)

    *A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2020)

  • #5: Tom Hanks’ Acting Philosophy 

    (Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

    For Tom Hanks, the ingredient that is most essential to great acting is the ability to be uninhibited; having the capacity to remove the self-consciousness that gets in the way of an actor’s ability to perform.

    “My job, that I figured out a long time ago, was to get beyond self-consciousness, because it’s the death of acting,” Hanks said in an interview with PBS.

    “If you have this outside presence and you’re seeing how you look and sound, you’ll never be able to get free enough in order to pursue the truth of what the character in the story is.”

    “It [acting] is always a battle against self-consciousness. It’s hard to get past the realization that you’re pretending to be somebody and people are looking at you, even if it’s the crew.”

    Hanks’ ability to move beyond his own self-consciousness is reflected in his masterful portrayals; from Forrest Gump to Mr. Rogers; memorable performance after memorable performance.


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