Tom Hanks realised he had to do this one thing to go from comedy star to serious actor

Tom Hanks John Oliver Jamie McCarthy Getty
(L-R) Tom Hanks and John Oliver. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Tom Hanks wasn’t always the iconic movie star we know him to be today.

Like most in Hollywood he started at the bottom. Beginning his career in the comedy realm with highlights like the TV show “Bosom Buddies” and later romantic comedies like “Splash,” “Bachelor Party,” and “The Money Pit” (to just name a few), he was building his stardom but not doing anything that was Oscar-worthy.

During a talk at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, moderated by John Oliver, the two-time Oscar winning actor admitted what he had to do to go from making forgettable movies like “Turner & Hooch” to classics like “Philadelphia.”

“At one point in my mid 30s when I was making an awful lot of movies about the goofy headed guy who can’t get laid, I realised then that I had to start saying a very very difficult word to people, which was no,” said Hanks, referring to turning down roles.

Forrest gump
‘Forrest Gump.’ Paramount

At that time in his career he was the star of movies like “The ‘Burbs,” and “Joe Versus the Volcano.” In 1990 he starred in “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” a movie that was considered a box office bust, though it was a turning point for Hanks because it was a serious role. Three years later would come “Philadelphia” followed by “Forrest Gump” a year later. He would win best actor Oscars for both roles.

“The odd lesson for that is I figured out that’s how you end up making the favourable work you do,” said Hanks. “Saying yes, then you just work. But saying no means you made the choice of the type of story you wanted to tell and the type of character you want to play.”

Hanks admits he still works too much, but the offers he gets now are a little more attractive than “Turner & Hooch”-type roles.

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