Monthly Inspiration: Tom Hanks
Monthly Inspiration is a new blog series that’s about what inspires me; filmmakers, styles, actors, scripts… each month, I’ll cover one new piece of inspiration. Hopefully I can turn you on to something that will inspire you as well.
Wow, July flew by. I spent a lot of time unpacking and working on my Cross Country Timelapse (read about that here)
For July’s Monthly Inspiration, I’m going with Tom Hanks (imdb.com). Producer, director, writer, and one of my all time favorite actors. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s from the San Francisco Bay Area; specifically, Concord, where I went to high school. As an actor, he’s one of the only actors in Hollywood that I would be comfortable casting in any role in any genre. He does it all (comedy, action, drama, everything), and he does it all well. I grew up watching him in reruns of Bosom Buddies (imdb.com); and when he started producing/directing/writing in the 90’s, he became the complete package. Plus, on top of being in the A+ list, he’s a humanitarian, he gave Coco (Conan O’Brien) his nickname, and he’s a hell of a guy.
Comedies: Bosom Buddies, Splash, Bachelor Party, Big, The Money Pit… this list could go on for a while; and I haven’t even gotten to the 12 times he’s hosted Saturday Night Live or the Toy Story movies.
Dramas: Philadelphia, Sleepless in Seattle, Forest Gump, The Green Mile… this list is also pretty long; and I’m not including all the voice over’s he’s done.
Action Flicks: Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me if You Can; I’d also include The Di Vinci Code and Angels and Demons in this list.
With more than 70 credits, 2 Oscars, and countless other awards to his name, I can say that without a doubt, Tom Hanks is one of the most versatile actors in the history of film. I grew up watching him. And he inspired my life even before I knew I wanted to make movies. Saving Private Ryan was a big reason why I wanted to join the Army (for those that don’t know, I didn’t end up going). And anyone from my generation will attribute Toy Story to being a big part of their childhoods.
On top of being a stellar actor, Hanks is also a prolific producer with credits that range from TV series, to movies, to animations. IMDB lists his producing credits at 37 titles. Of those 37, I’ve seen all of them (the ones that have been released anyway); and absolutely loved The Pacific (imdb.com), sort of a Pacific Theater version of Band of Brothers (of which, Mr. Hanks produced, wrote, and directed an episode of); and John Adams (imdb.com), which won Paul Giamatti an Emmy. What I really admire about his producing style is that he doesn’t just throw money at any old project and say make it happen. He chooses only the best projects, and of those, he has a very hands on approach. Surely Charlie Wilson’s War is a perfect example of choosing the right project, and becoming more than just a money-thrower-atter… yes, I made up a word. Deal with it.
While his writing and directing credits aren’t as extensive as his acting or producing credits, he’s still done it. That Thing You Do! (imdb.com) marks Hanks’ first writing credit and is also his first major directing credit in 1996. Fifteen years later he wrote and directed Larry Crowne (imdb.com) starring himself and Julia Roberts. Both films have similar comedy styles to what Hanks is known for; both have similar feels to Sleepless in Seattle and Bosom Buddies. I personally know how hard it is to write and direct, so for anyone to do so for a feature is stunning. And it just makes me admire Tom (can I even call him Tom?) even more.
In the 30+ years that Tom Hanks has been involved in television and films he has hit millions of people’s funny bones, he’s touched all our hearts, and riveted us with his performances. But as a Hollywood icon, he’s done so much more. As an actor, producer, writer, and director he truly is a quadruple threat. For his sheer amount of talent, and his ability to consistently entertain, regardless of the genre, I really admire him.