“The job of the actor was to live up to the text… The job is the job. The text is the text. ” – Tom Hanks
Two-time Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks is among almost everyone’s favorite actors, and with good reason: just about anyone can name their top five Tom Hanks performances, and almost every list will differ Hanks has done just that many wonderful performances. His most recent project, Finch, is a sci-fi drama for Apple TV+. In an interview to promote Finch, Hanks spoke about what he believes is the ideal first job for an actor that, at least for him, set him up for his later success.
Through his career, Hanks has performed in roles that range from straight comedy (The ‘Burbs) to heavy drama (Philadelphia) and just about everything in between. When asked how he manages to balance the emotional tone in films that require both comedy and drama (perhaps what Hanks is best at), he points to his earliest experiences as an actor for preparation:
“My first job as an actor was in rotating repertory theater, which I think is the greatest job an actor can have because there is such a variety that is demanded of you. You don’t really have to make any choices. Years ago in 1977 at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, we did six plays a year — a comedy, history, tragedy, something contemporary and something made up. So the job of the actor was to live up to the text, the expectations of what each individual play was. When you get into films and television, those are singular decisions that you make. The job is the job. The text is the text. And it has never been a circumstance where I thought it’s time to do a comedy, oh, it’s time to get serious or it’s time to get historical. It’s always about what does the story examine by way of the theme that it’s talking about and how do we get there. That’s just fun. I think in every comedy I’ve done there’s been some serious moments and in every serious movie, there’s been some comedic moments. That’s the way life is.”