He once said, ‘may you get all you want and not want as long as you live’. He’s also known to have said, albeit vicariously through Forrest Gump, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get’!
If that is true, then could we ask for one thing from lord almighty. May the world view Tom Hanks as the inspirational bite of wisdom and pleasure in life and not ask for anything more!
At an age where his contemporaries are basking in the glory of their glorious past and others of the have-been era brandishing their resume through advertising, brand-building to appeal to popular culture, Tom Hanks is going strong. He is far from being an old bloke who has been there, done that and is actually, not done yet!
Tom is 60, about 50 fully commercial movies young, raring to go, despite having won two-back-to-back Academy Awards and it seems, he has hardly broken any sweat.
The Concord, California-born veteran of some truly amazing movies that have left an indelible mark on the conscience of movie-going audiences has left a trail that many are proud to follow. Picture the events of 1993 and 1994 where Hanks, the smart, slick, Tuxedoed dude went onstage to pick his Oscar! His contemporaries, many of whom had equally amazing portrayals including Tim Robbins, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Lemmon and others weren’t really stunned when it was announced that Hanks had bagged his award for Philadelphia followed by Forrest Gump, the latter being a landmark in movie-going culture. Perhaps, somewhere the idea of losing out on the prestigious Oscar to a stalwart like Tom Hanks, was in itself a mark of splendid victory and an unexpressed word of ‘having truly arrived on the big stage’.
So much about Hanks, among Hollywood’s top cats is as admirable as it is iconic. Implicit in the DNA of one of America’s much-loved sons is a rare form of versatility; an art form that cannot be paralleled, supplemented by an honesty and bred by a humility that defines his character and soothes the corrosive surface of a Hollywood that has a penchant for clinging to obscurity. He has shown his resplendent charm ever since the 1990s, where as Forrest Gump he took the world on a historic sojourn and a landmark saga of uplifting emotions. In Philadelphia, he personified empathy and compassion as vital tools to save innocent, harmless lives that are as talented as they are immensely valuable.
As the teenager stuck in an adult’s body, Tom’s Josh Baskin may have wanted to grow up and enjoy life like a cool teenager in ‘Big’ but his audiences’ love for him grew so much that none wanted to grow out of the Tom Hanks enigma. He moved us in He knows you’re alone, we cuddled up to him in The Man With One Red Shoe and adored him in The Money Pit. But Tom, oscillating effervescently in life’s changing vagaries as a mellow-warrior among Volunteers, went affably from being the cynosure of all eyes in Turner and Hooch as did his character progression from Splash to Bonfire Of The Vanities.
If not much, post the late eighties, a decade where Tom the comedian started paving way to Tom the versatile ‘can do anything’ lad, Hanks’ charisma grew manifold among movie-going audiences who expected to dig in to some serious roles and interesting interludes of emotions in order to take a sizeable bite of cinema. Hanks seemed up for the challenge and just when the ‘idea formers and opinion makers’ expected him to only parade his talent through characters such as Andrew Beckett (Philadelphia) and Forrest Gump, Hanks did Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and The Green Mile. If he was charismatic as the cappuccino-sipping, constant e-mailing charmer Joe Fox (You’ve Got Mail), he was mighty adorable as the single dad in Sleepless In Seattle. As the most honest, sincere and friendly prison guard, Tom commanded with an earnest zeal the attention of fans who had come to loathe the misery of a rather painful prison drama . The film was saved by the enormous talent of an actor who did pretty much everything, right from cracking jokes with Mr. Jingles (the mouse) to siding with the harmless burly macho, the wrongly accused Michael Clarke Duncan in taking fans to the long mile of entertainment in The Green Mile.
In the middle of a successful career that was forged amidst incessant competition of humungous successes of the other Tom; Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Kevin Spacey and others, Hanks went from strength-to-strength, never succumbing to the childhood horror of witnessing a broken childhood thanks to a bitter fall-out between father, Amos Hanks and his mother. The man who had first cut his teeth at the legendary ‘Great Lakes Theater (Ohio)’ stage to this day remains in immense gratitude for his American high-school drama teachers, who inspired him to be the man he is today.
Sharing a profound love that often borders on random obsession of collecting typewriters, Hanks, the curly hair, smartly dressed dasher is a pious imprint on the corrupt sands of commerce that have often hijacked the surface of Hollywood. He is simple yet elegant, mild-mannered yet determined. And focused yet not insanely driven in his quest to dig a well of inexhaustible concentration with which each Tom Hanks character is crafted to leaves an imprint of nicety and an affirmation in the good and benevolent of life. Still, through Tom Hanks’ ubiquity and omnipresence in a world extending outside Hollywood, where movies are still respected as art-form and not as commercial weapons of exercising strength on popular culture, the world seems so better a place even if it may not be.
Perhaps that is reason strong enough to get Hanks’ famous mugshot posted onto the glittery snapshot of someone as famous as Walt Disney (Saving Mr. Banks) while there was no possible similarity between the two men’s face. Or maybe, it is Hanks’ inner spirit, intangibly beautiful and tangibly so solid that it lent character and grit to a character as flawed as Michael Sullivan, the ‘hitman’ in 2002’s Road To Perdition.
Ever the ladies man, in Hanks’s august company, not just sweet, petite teenage fashion icons but a dessert gulping uptown grandma feels safe, those frequent and cuddly selfie-shots uploaded on social media reveal. It is a reason that might make wife, Rita Wilson feel proud of her man as much as making her cringe with inner envy, albeit with a hint of tease. That Hanks can romance someone like Meg Ryan, America’s other sweetheart and get along with Julia Roberts like cool weather post a thundery shower is reason enough to commit in Hanks’ lair a challenging project that despite offering low thrills can take quite a walk in offering mushy romantic mini sojourns.
A frequent collaborator with Steven Spielberg and a close friend to the Obama’s, the man who doesn’t need to be politically correct just played the role of his life, in Sully as Captain Sullenberger. It was a titular role as exemplary in its challenge posed to America’s ‘Mr. versatile’ as it was affable in its tender treatment of a sensitive subject. Hanks tight-walked the emotional territory of self-control amidst overwhelmingly difficult times with such equanimity that fans were reminded just why America’s much loved sons is adored for his caliber as he is accepted for his innate humility.
May there never be a day in Hollywood without the quintessential method actor who can charm you while causing no harm and harm you quaintly with his magnificent silence in eyes, hitherto rarely seen and perhaps, too complicated to be even called a riddle.
Hanks, given his penchant for discovering challenging roles and assignments seems a tireless revolutionary and someone who won’t settle for anything moderate in the dreamy zone between complicated and impossible.
It is here that we find Hanks’ enigma and charming halo- a shadow around which Hollywood smiles with glee despite being stifled with so much redundancy and obscurity. Long live, Tom the mighty Hanks.