Tom Hanks is back as a director 15 years after he made That Thing You Do (1996). And naturally that prompts the first query. “I’m not a director. The movies I’ve made (The Polar Express (2004), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Mamma Mia! (2008), Where the Wild Things Are (2009); the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries The Pacific (2010), Band of Brothers (2001) and John Adams (2008)) have been personal missions that came out of my own company and head. It was like a fever, I had to do it,” he asserts.
The Hollywood actor’s film, Larry Crowne, that he has co-produced, written, directed and acted in, is set to open this Friday, when the blockbuster franchise, Transformers 3, is still going strong. But Hanks is unfazed. “You can interview all the marketing gurus and the people in charge, they will all talk about release dates, counter-programming and blah, blah, blah. But at the end of the day, it’s got to be a good movie and make people think, ‘hey, I couldn’t have spent my time any better.’”
Larry Crowne is about the American propensity for starting from scratch and the script is coloured by the on-going recession. It’s inspired by one of Hanks junior college mates (Larry), who is fired on the pretext of not going to college, which is when he enrolls himself in one. God forbid, if Tom were to hit a roadblock at this age, would he be able switch lanes easily?
“I would be lost if someone said, ‘You’re out of show business,’” he admits. “Unlike Larry, I’ve never been able to accept my living being taken away from me or my world crashing around me.” He agrees that he’s lost gigs as an actor after believing that he’s going to start shooting in about three months. “But I lost those jobs for artistic or monetary reasons or because something else came along,” he reasons. “No one in the world can empathise with the idea of walking into a place where someone thinks he’s king and can get out of there with all his possessions before lunchtime.” Hanks also worked as an executive producer and narrator on the 2010 TV series, The Pacific and admits it was not possible to re-create the second World War.
“You have to make it more of a personal saga. Also the nature of warfare in the South Pacific was different from liberating Holland.” Tom’s co-star in the film is ‘Pretty Woman’, Julia Roberts. When asked of one thing about her that nobody else knows? “Make no mistake of her ability to find what is funny in a scene smack up against what is authentic,” he says. He’s also going to be acting in Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel by the Wachowski brothers and Tom Twyker as well. “Boy, that’s going to be a beast, it’s going to be wild,” he says. “I admire the Wachowskis’s uncompromising films that force the audience to go deep and sometimes on a very adult kind of journey. I want to be tested as an actor in such films.”