Tom Hanks Once Admitted This Movie Exposed His ‘Worst Aspects’

Tom Hanks has a reputation as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Certainly, the actor’s performances over the years — often reliable professionals and good-natured everymen, sometimes both — have perpetuated that idea. But Hanks hasn’t always played sweethearts on the big screen. On occasion, he has even portrayed villains. And though his character in the movie isn’t devious, Hanks once revealed an early movie from his career highlights his own “worst aspects.”

Tom Hanks wears a gray suit and glasses as he speaks at a mic
Tom Hanks | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Tom Hanks became a breakout star after 1988’s ‘Big’

Leaning into Hanks’ ability to play childlike innocence, director Penny Marshall cast him in 1988’s Big. The film sees the actor play a young boy who makes a wish and awakens as a 30-year-old man. Hanks’ inherent likeability goes a long way toward informing his role as Josh Baskin in that classic comedy. And Big set a certain expectation for how audiences and Hollywood would see the actor going forward. He even secured his first Oscar nod for the role.

Moreover, nearly a decade had passed since Hanks made his feature film debut in the forgotten horror film He Knows You’re Alone. 1984’s Splash and Bachelor Party gave him an opportunity to build a movie career. And after years of almost all comedies, Big gave Hanks some more dramatic material to work with. However, he would later confess that the vulnerability he exhibited in the movie was nothing compared to the one that came next.

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But its follow-up was ‘too close’ to who he really is

Just a few months after Big hit theaters, Hanks co-starred with Sally Field in Punchline. In the movie, the two actors played aspiring stand-up comedians who develop a close friendship. The film failed to attract much of an audience. But in an interview with Playboy the next year, Hanks would praise the project

“We were talking some real naked truths about the characters and, in a lot of ways, about myself. I was too close. The guy in Punchline probably has the worst aspects of my worst aspects. … He is extremely competitive, for one thing. Competitive to a fault. He is unable to balance his daily existence so that real life and what he does for a living have an equal weight. I’ve certainly had those problems. I think any actor has. The only time you really feel alive is when you’re working. I’ve gotten a little more mature since I was like that, but… I think that‘s what really drives actors absolutely stark-raving mad and why they develop ulcers and drug problems.”

Certainly, the pressure to live up to expectations — both from fans, those closest to them, and even themselves — has affected many entertainers. But seeing how Hanks comes across as so easy-going, it’s interesting to note how he tapped into his own insecurities for Punchline. Unfortunately for fans, the movie isn’t streaming anymore as of this writing, according to JustWatch.com.

Tom Hanks has since become ‘America’s Dad’

In the decades since Punchline, Hanks has developed a much more fatherly relationship with audiences. Now in his mid-60s, the actor continues to demonstrate his range on screen. And rather than using his comic persona as his earlier movies do, hits like Captain Phillips, Sully, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood cast the actor as trustworthy authority figures.

It’s precisely the type of role that has earned Hanks the honorary title of “America’s Dad.” His upcoming role as Geppetto, the wood-carver who becomes father to the titular wooden boy, in Pinocchio will build on that. For that movie, Hanks reunites with Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis. The live-action/computer-animated Pinocchio is expected to release on Disney+ in late 2022.

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