Tom Hanks Interview
Tom Hanks Interview
Tom Hanks is renowned the world over for being a writer, director, actor and producer to over 100 different film and television titles. Simply starring in some, such as the Oscar winning Saving Private Ryan and the Toy Story trilogy, he is also famous for producing the likes of Band of Brothers, Mamma Mia!, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Polar Express. Combining his writing, directing and acting talents all in one for Larry Crowne, in which he co-stars with Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks was in London recently to talk about his long running film career, how long it takes to write a movie, and why he supports Aston Villa.

It's taken a long time for you to direct your second feature [after That Thing You Do]. What was the hold-up?

Tom Hanks

Well, it’s not my regular job. That’s one thing. Directing a feature, you have to be infected with a certain kind of Ecoli or something like that. It has to take over and you have to be like, ‘The only thing I can do now is direct this film. I’ve got to see it all the way through!’ Because it’s about two years of your life. And quite frankly being a movie star is a much better gig. Pays better. Less is expected of you. You don’t have to work as hard. They let you go home early … sometimes.

So it requires that personal investment of telling a story. It took about six years for Larry Crowne to come to pass, and I didn’t start really taking it seriously as something that I would want to spend this much time with, until I had finished my own draft and even that was close to three years ago.
Quite frankly being a movie star is a much better gig. Pays better. You don’t have to work as hard...
The film speaks to the Baby Boomer generation. Do you think they’ve been well served by films these days or have they been left behind?

Tom Hanks

By films, I think by the market place, the stuff that’s completely put up in front of us over and over again … no! I think they moved onto wish fulfilment and fantasies. But storytelling as a whole - television has never been as good as it has been right now. I’ve been lucky to be able to examine a number of things, like Big Love. I love the stuff – Mad Men, Breaking Bad. There are so many truly great television series on there, that it’s actually taking the onus off motion pictures. Movies are very expensive to make. The studio only wants to make a certain type of movie. Anything else that comes out almost comes out by luck. And you also have to say the audiences are not quite there anymore. Only because we have so many other distractions that are available to us.

Take a decade like the Seventies, where you’re seeing the great Marty Scorsese films and Sidney Lumet was making movies, Paul Mazursky was making movies, Woody Allen was cranking them out like crazy. Those were adult films that adults went to see. Well, adults can be quite frankly dazzled by stuff that they can see at home right now. And the market place has been left open to the people who actually choose to go to movies. As opposed to just the folks who go to the movies just because it’s part of the social contract of being young or wanting to meet chicks. That make sense? I don’t know if it did or not.
Will this find an audience with people who have been laid off?

Tom Hanks

I don’t know anybody personally. But as an actor/artist, if I can make that claim, I can’t help but know, point blank, that the turn-down in the economy affects people personally. You don’t have to be a real-estate developer whose condo unit went belly-up - or somebody who is trying to buy and sell 19 houses at the same time and flipping for a profit – to understand that if you lose your job and you can’t make your mortgage on your job, it’s a personal crisis that you’re going through, not just something you read about on the business pages.

Now the trick is how can you possibly make a movie about that, that doesn’t turn out to be the most depressing film you have ever seen? We still wanted to make a movie that was going to be funny. That if not upbeat, is at least an example of how to fight cynicism, how to combat the depression that could go along with losing one’s job, and how to still have faith in one’s self, that as long as you make some pro-active motions to improve your life, things might get better.

The end result of our movie is that Larry Crowne can maybe look back and say, ‘The best thing that ever happened to me was losing my job. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone to college, I wouldn’t have got a scooter, I wouldn’t have met this magnificent woman.’ Now that’s the fantasy of a movie about it, as opposed to the reality of it. But you cannot deny, if somebody out there has lost it all, and says, ‘I’ve got nothing to do. I’m going to go back to college,’ and ends up falling in love with being a welder or something, it can happen.

I think rather than adhering to the fake version of how if you pursue things your dreams will come true, maybe it’s just that if you hang on long enough, things might work out for you. In reality, Larry lives in a worse apartment, in a worse neighbourhood, and he has a worse job than he had. But he’s actually a little bit better off than he was at the beginning, but that’s the magic of the movies.
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Content updated: 20/11/2017 10:40

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