Promoting his upcoming comedy-drama Larry Crowne, co-star/director Tom Hanks (opposite Julia Roberts in the film) recently sat down with W. The resulting conversation provided tremendous insight into the beginnings of the film legend’s career and what drew him to acting in the first place.
“I didn’t think acting was a job,” said Hanks, whose first acting gig was in a Chabot College production of Our Town. “I did take a class called Drama in Performance. We read plays and went and saw them performed. That was the transformational experience for me: There was no chick, no girlfriend you were trying to impress. The whole world went black, and you were one with the play.”
Hanks also recalled that both theater and film attracted him, albeit in different ways. “Theater contained possibilities. Movies were abstract to me,” he told W, adding that it was beyond the realm of his imagination to ever appear on the big screen.
After working as a hotel bellman who would go on auditions during off-hours, Hanks finally broke into Hollywood and, ironically, acting did become a full-time job. He starred in innocuous 1980s comedies like Splash, Big and The ‘Burbs, but eventually opted for a more serious turn by taking roles such as a homosexual attorney in 1993’s Philadelphia. “I wanted to play men instead of boys. In your mid-30s, it’s time to start playing guys of compromise. And as you get older, men of bitter compromise.”
The three secrets to Hanks’ success? “Show up on time, know what to say, and have an idea about the character. And when I direct, that’s what I expect from my actors. You’d be amazed how hard it is to do those three things.”