Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Cast Away
Currently Known For:
Actor and Filmmaker
1980s - Present
July 9, 1956
Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Cast Away
“My mamma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna’ get.’” Tom Hanks is one of the most beloved movie stars in the world who launched his career over four decades ago with films like Splash (1984) and Big (1988). As he took on more dramatic and comedic roles, Hanks’ career flourished throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s with stellar performances in Turner & Hooch (1989), A League of Their Own (1992), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). In 1993, he stunned the world with his performance in Philadelphia, which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. A year later, he did it again and took home Best Actor honors at the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for his jaw-dropping performance in Forrest Gump (1994).
Over the last two decades, Hanks has proven he only gets better with time thanks to blockbusters like Apollo 13 (1994), You’ve Got Mail (1998), The Green Mile (1999), and Cast Away (2000). His collaborations with Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), Bridge of Spies (2015), and The Post (2017) have also paid off with Hanks’ numerous films grossing over $9.2 billion at box offices worldwide to make him one of the top five highest grossing actors in North America. Still going strong today with numerous projects in the works, let’s take a closer look at the 62-year-old’s rise to fortune and fame!Early Life in California
“Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely even when you are.” One of four children born to a chef and a hospital worker, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks came into this world on July 9, 1956, in Concord, California. When he was five years old, his parents divorced leaving Hanks and his older two siblings to live with their father while their younger brother, Jim, stayed with their mother in Red Bluff, California. By the age of 10, Hanks moved around so much that he attended 10 different schools before the family settled down in Oakland, California.
“I was never intimated by change. I was like an army brat who had lived all around the world,” Hanks said of embracing change. “I knew that when I went to a new school, sooner or later someone was going to laugh at something I said in the handball line, and boom, it would all be fine. Sometimes it took two days, but other times it happened on the first day at lunch. Because I went to so many different kinds of schools, I got a wide view of the way others did things, and I thought it was all so interesting.”
Embracing that change and later describing himself as a shy but responsible kid, Hanks attended Skyline High School where he successfully broke free from his shyness and joined the school’s theater department. He performed in several school productions and, after graduation, spent two years studying theater at Chabot College in Hayward, California. He later transferred to California State University, Sacramento where he immersed himself in theater. “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,” Hanks recalled. “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.”
While at CSU-Sacramento, Hanks met veteran Irish actor Vincent Dowling who encouraged him to intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, Dowling was head of the program and immediately recognized Hanks’ talent. Hanks accepted the internship and learned the ins and outs of theatre from set design and lighting to stage management. Before long, his internship stretched into three years as he dropped out of college and landed his first award-winning role as Proteus in The Two Gentleman of Verona in 1978. The performance earned him a Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and marked one of the few times in Hanks’ career that he ever played a villain.Making a Name for Himself
“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” Fueled by his first acting award, Hanks made the big move to New York City in 1979 and saw his hard work pay off the following year when he made his film debut in the low-budget flick, He Knows You’re Alone (1980). Although the slasher film didn’t take the box office by storm, Hanks’ performance caught the attention of an ABC talent scout who offered him the chance to audition for a new sitcom pilot—Bosom Buddies. Hanks landed a starring role opposite Peter Scolari as two advertising men who dress as women to pay cheaper rent in an all-female hotel.
Once he landed the role, Hanks moved to Los Angeles where Bosom Buddies garnered critical praise over its two-season run until 1982. “The first day I saw him on set, I thought, ‘Too bad he won’t be in television for long,’” co-producer Ian Praiser recalled of working with Hanks. “I knew he’d be a movie star in two years.” Hanks, however, didn’t have the same level of confidence until he met a young director named Ron Howard after making a guest appearance on Happy Days (1982). Howard reached out to Hanks regarding his next project, Splash (1984). Howard envisioned Hanks as the leading man’s wisecracking brother but that role went to John Candy as Hanks took the lead in the surprise box office hit that grossed over $69 million.
Splash paved the way for even bigger opportunities as Hanks made several guest appearances on Family Ties (1983-1984) and joined Jackie Gleason in Nothing in Common (1986). By this time, Hanks made the transition from comedic roles into more dramatic roles in a move that marked a huge shift in his career as he later told Rolling Stone magazine. “It changed my desires about working in movies. Part of it was the nature of the material, what we were trying to say. But besides that, it focused on people’s relationships…”
Hanks starred in Volunteers (1985), The Money Pit (1986), and Dragnet (1987) before he became a Hollywood staple with Big (1988), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He followed up with Punchline (1989) and then had a string of flops with The ‘Burbs (1989), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), the latter of which he still regrets. “It’s one of the crappiest movies ever made,” he said. “And yet if I hadn’t gone through that experience, I would have lost out on something valuable. That movie was a fascinating enterprise from the word go. It was bigger than life, and for some reason, it had a huge amount of attention on it. I can go to Germany even now and people will say, ‘How come you don’t make good, gritty movies like The Bonfire of the Vanities anymore?’ They have no concept of what it meant to be an American and have that movie enter the national consciousness. Bonfire taught me that I couldn’t manufacture a core connection.”
Enjoying only minor success with Turner & Hooch (1989), Hanks made a huge comeback in 1992 when he joined an ensemble cast in A League of Their Own. The following year, his career took a new direction when he joined Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and gave an award-winning performance in Philadelphia (1993) in which he shed 35 pounds and thinned his hair to play a gay lawyer with AIDS. Critics couldn’t get enough of Hanks’ performance with People magazine raving, “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 an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. Just a year later, Hanks starred in another blockbuster, Forrest Gump (1994), which earned over $600 million at the box office and earned Hanks a second Best Actor Academy Award. “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,” Hanks said. “I got that from the movies a hundred million times when I was a kid. I still do.” That feeling shone through in his performance and led him to his next role as an astronaut in Apollo 13 (1995). Critics praised the film and its ensemble cast as Hanks showed his softer side by voicing Sheriff Woody in the first Toy Story (1995) film of the Disney/Pixar series.Settling Into Stardom
“There isn’t any great mystery about me. What I do is glamorous and has an awful lot of white-hot attention placed on it. But the actual work requires the same discipline and passion as any job you love doing, be it as a very good pipe fitter or a highly creative artist.” Hanks made his directorial debut in That Thing You Do! (1996) and then executive produced, cowrote, and co-directed the HBO docudrama, From the Earth to the Moon (1998). He then teamed up with Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan (1998), joined Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail (1998), starred in The Green Mile (1999), and joined Helen Hunt in Cast Away (2000), the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
By the new millennium, Hanks was well-established in the industry. He directed and produced the Emmy Award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). He also starred in Road to Perdition (2002) and Catch Me If You Can (2002) before he teamed up with his wife, Rita Wilson, to produce My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). For his work in the film industry and his incredible influence, Hanks was honored as the youngest-ever recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in 2002.
With such an incredible impact in the film industry, Hanks refused to slow down and starred in The Ladykillers (2004), The Terminal (2004), and The Polar Express (2004). He served as Vice President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005 and took on a starring role in The Da Vinci Code (2006). Over the last decade, he added in credits in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), The Great Buck Howard (2008), and Angels & Demons (2009) in addition to executive producing Mamma Mia (2008) and John Adams (2008) as well as reprising his role as Woody in Toy Story 3, which became the first animated film to gross over $1 billion worldwide. In 2011, Hanks joined Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne and Sandra Bullock in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
In 2013, Hanks was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in Saving Mr. Banks (2013) and went on to make his Broadway debut in Lucky Guy, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. Over the last six years, he’s proven he only gets better with age with credits in Bridge of Spies (2015), A Hologram for the King (2016), Sully (2016), Inferno (2016), and The Circle (2017). He’s set to reprise his role as Woody in Toy Story 4 (2019) and will portray Fred Rogers in the biographical film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. He is also set to star in the 2020 war film, Greyhound.Life Behind the Scenes
“I view my wife as my lover, and we have a bond that goes beyond words like wife or girlfriend or mother.” Amid his incredible success in the spotlight, Hanks has become one of Hollywood’s most trusted and revered names, which stems from his devotion to his family. First married to actress Samantha Lewes from 1978 to 1987, Hanks became a father with the birth of Colin (1977) and Elizabeth (1982). In 1981, he met actress Rita Wilson on the set of Bosom Buddies and then reunited on the set of Volunteers in 1985. They married in 1988 and are still together today with two sons and a love that has stood the test of time and Hollywood. “The success of our relationship was a matter of timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection,” Hanks says. “I won’t deny that providence was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn’t magic—the way it’s shown in movies… but we both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other and we’ll get through it all.”