Home' Get Up and Go : Spring 2016 Contents I
n his latest film, A Hologram for a King, Tom
Hanks plays a desperate American salesman,
ravaged by the effects of the economic downturn,
who travels to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic
teleconferencing system to the Saudi government.
A two time Oscar winner and four time Globe
winner, not to mention a slew of Emmy’s, BAFTA’s,
SAG’s and more, Hanks is a titan of modern cinema.
His films have grossed more than $8.5billion at the box
office, making him the fourth highest grossing actor of
all time – behind Morgan Freeman and Harrison Ford.
In a career spanning four decades, he’s enchanted
audiences with early performances in Splash and Big;
charmed in Sleepless in Seattle and Forrest Gump;
riveted in Philadelphia and Castaway and become
an icon of our time thanks to vocal duties in the Toy
And for the actor who’s done it all, what attracts
him to a project at this stage in his career?
In Hologram, it was the chance to work with his
Cloud Atlas collaborator, Tommy Tykwer, and the
opportunity to adapt a Dave Eggers novel [which
he’ll do again in upcoming film, The Circle].
And for Hanks, it’s all about risk. Like his
character, Alan Clay, he reflects the adage – ‘without
risk, there is no life.’
Married to Rita Wilson for nearly 30 years, they
share two children, Chet, 26, and Truman, 21. He
also has two older kids, Colin, 39, and Elizabeth, 34,
from his first marriage to Samantha Lewes.
In friendly, though relatively guarded humour,
he talks of his attraction to Eggers’ book and why
shooting in the Sahara is a treasured moment.
Hanks also talks of his early career, his self-doubts
and why turning 60 is no big deal.
Q: The chance to work with Tommy Tykwer again
after Cloud Atlas must have been the clincher for
HANKS: While we were doing promotion for Cloud
Atlas, we all sat, Tommy, Dave [Eggers] and I and
Tommy says, “This is you all over every page.
You have to do this because you haven’t done this
Reading it, I knew I wanted to play Alan Clay.
Q: The trailer is actually quite an inaccurate
portrayal of the film. Did that trouble you?
HANKS: This story is about breaking down barriers,
perceptions, stereotypes; it’s a love story. It’s a
buddy comedy. It’s strange; it’s warm. It deals with
issues from another diametric. It’s a love story, an
adventure, a thriller, a romance, a comedy, so the
marketing people can only sell those types of films.
And that’s what happened with the trailer, at least
the American, one which missed the tone.
There’s a sense the book is dramatic, dark – there’s
a sense where we’re in a very intricate era and
period, it’s not a local businessman in the global
economy, who’s not used to that arena. He’s trying
to sell something that’s not really there to someone
who’s never really there, it’s all so complicated.
Q: You shot in Morocco, but was there ever any
potential to shoot in Saudi Arabia?
HANKS: I don’t think any film has ever filmed in
Saudi Arabia, can you film there? I don’t think so.
The rules, the governance of the place is almost
incomprehensible, it has to be approved by the
ministry of so and so, and they did not approve.
They didn’t approve of Dave’s book, or the script
we wrote. There were certain things in there like
showing a doctor who’s not allowed to drive. They
didn’t approve of that so no, we couldn’t shoot there.
Like Alan experiences, it’s a window into how
another culture does business, and they do big
business over there. A lot of it is done over tea,
discussing many things. You pass by the actual
subject you wanted to talk about and you say “you’ll
talk about it again”. And then you come back, you
have tea and you eventually get to the business.
Q: This film is all about gambling and taking risk;
are you a risk taker?
HANKS: Yeah, I am.
Q: Where do you take these risks?
HANKS: Every time I make a movie. Every time,
it’s a risk, and I fully appreciate and fear that. It’s
this enjoyable, nauseous balance and you have to
convince everyone that’s it’s a great idea.
I did a movie called Larry Crowne that I acted in,
directed and produced and I thought it was a great
idea but nobody else did [laughs]. It was a risk and
sometimes risks don’t always succeed. When it does
succeed, it’s powerful.
In order to create work as an artist, I look for
something with danger. That can take time to find.
And when you do find it, you ask yourself, “Will
anyone go see it if we make it?” It’s like with this
film, Tom saying to me, “Will anyone understand
this and what we’re trying to do here?”
I said the same to Bob Zemeckis while we were
shooting Forrest Gump, I said, “Bob, will anyone
see this?” And he says, “It’s a minefield Tom, it’s a
minefield.” You gotta have faith in your instincts.
Q: You’re turning 60 this year, how do you feel
about that milestone?
HANKS: It’s just a number [laughs}. I still feel the
same as I did at 40, at 35. After 25, it’s just a reason
to get together with friends, have a few drinks,
nothing’s going to change. •
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