Tom Hanks, possibly responsible for some of the greatest movie lines of all time, has had an admirable career. The stamina and consistency of his career and success lies in his ability to cover all bases. From the late eighties, Hanks has been a friendly and familiar cinematic star. Appearing in a staggering number of iconic films, Hanks has positioned himself well within the industry. His versatility has allowed him to appeal to a variety of audiences and maintain a flourishing career for twenty five years. It was the nineties that drowned Hanks in Hollywood limelight and made him a box office star.
“There’s a snake in my boot.”
For many, Tom Hanks is most highly associated with children’s cinema. Providing one of the main voice-overs for Lasseter’s Toy Story meant that Hanks would always be remembered for his role in the series of films that set the new standard for both computer animation and youth cinema. One of his first successes was in Penny Marshall’s Big; one of the most beloved eighties fantasy family films. By the mid nineties Hanks had managed to make his physical and oral presence known. His appearance in other popular family movies such as The ‘Burbs and Turner & Hooch made him one of Hollywood’s most reliable and consistent stars. His dedication to his craft is most visible in the family epic Castaway. Hanks was somehow able to entertain, move and fascinate children through cinema from the earliest years of his career. Through fantasy, adventure, comedy and drama, Tom Hanks became one of Hollywood’s most firmly cemented actors, not only because of his children’s films.
“It was like….magic.”
Women fell in love with Tom Hanks in the nineties. His performance in Sleepless in Seattle, as the recovering widower Sam Baldwin, lead to a completely different type of following for the actor. Even the greatest of actors have struggled with particular genres. Robert De Niro, an actor who will go to any lengths to improve the realism of a character has often been criticised for his inability to grasp and portray romance. Al Pacino, striking and terrifying in the first two parts of Coppola’s The Godfather, loses all subtlety and conviction in the final chapter of the trilogy. Hanks has remained consistent and has never struggled with certain genres and styles of film. Even in You’ve Got Mail, the unconvincing, sickly and predictable romantic drama that reunited Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks after five years, was adored by many audience. It appears the film’s problems were able to be overlooked thanks to the warm and welcoming presence of Hanks.
“Would it make you more comfortable?”
Hanks has appeared in some of contemporary cinema’s most impressive and substantial pieces of work. Alongside his work in family cinema, Hanks also spent the nineties appearing in films that would prove to stand the test of time. Working with Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan demonstrated, yet again, just how versatile Hanks is as an actor. Other successful and popular films for Hanks included Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, The Green Mile and Philadelphia; the later perhaps displaying Hank’s bravery and conviction as an actor more clearly than any other. There is no denying that Hanks has made fantastic film choices. The roles he has decided to take on have not only been well delivered but well thought out. Hanks clearly brings an intelligence to his work that helps to direct and develop his cinematic career.
“I know you’ll be back on Monday.”
Hanks has by no means had a blemish free career. During the 2000s, Hanks appeared in several duff numbers including The Da Vinci Code and the obscure Coen Brother’s remake of The Ladykillers. Despite this, there is no denying the success and popularity of The Da Vinci Code and despite my personal dislike of the reboot of The Ladykillers – an Ealing Studio classic – Hanks himself displayed his true knack for verbal and physical comedy and boldly took on a character that Alec Guinness had once made so hilarious and unique. The 2000s also demonstrated Hanks’ stamina in an ever developing industry. Reuniting with Spielberg, Hanks performed alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the spectacular and highly entertaining Catch Me If You Can as well as the nostalgic Road to Perdition, directed by the respectable Sam Mendes. By collaborating with some of Hollywood’s most interesting directors, and by never limiting himself to certain genres and characters, Hanks has succeeded in becoming one of the most iconic and substantial actors in contemporary American cinema. From Andrew Beckett, to Captain Miller, to Michael Sullivan, Hanks has accomplished some of cinemas most complex characters. Tom Hanks is a courageous, unpredictable and loveable actor who I hope will continue to surprise and delight for decades to come.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.