Tom Hanks on “Larry Crowne”, Hollywood Cynicism and Balancing his Roles as Writer, Director and Actor

Tom Hanks is well known for his attraction to hopeful, optimistic characters, which is why his turn as the titular Larry Crowne is unsurprising. The film, which opens this Friday, tells the tale of an unemployed, middle-aged man who reinvents himself at community college.

Hanks wasn’t merely the star of the film, he wore three different hats: writer, director and actor. In a recent interview with NPR, Hanks admitted to the difficulty of balancing these distinct roles, saying, “Writing a movie and then directing the result of that script is … a personal virus that you have to fight. It’s a fever that you get that takes you over.”

The biggest challenge was not in the filming process, but in the preceding six-month preparation process. Hanks continued, “That’s when it’s hard to go back and forth between being a director who wants to tell a story with a specific sort of sound and look to it, as opposed to the actor just saying, ‘And what am I going to say here exactly and why am I saying it?…That’s where the battle between being a director and an actor is really fought.”

That was not the only battle that Hanks was up against. He also hoped to combat the overwhelming Hollywood cynicism, citing himself as an optimist, perpetually starting his mornings with a positive outlook. He observed, “This is a movie that is about the battle against cynicism, of not giving in to that form of cynicism. I think that if I wasn’t in show business I would still be a guy who has little cynicism.” Hanks claimed he could be just as happy working as a tour guide for a historical site, yet even as such he could never leave behind his inclination to tell stories, admitting, “I’d still be telling stories somehow and I would still be searching out the least cynical stories to tell.”

Written by Jennifer Abidor

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