Tom Hanks Ate 1 Food to Gain 30 Pounds for ‘A League of Their Own’

Most Tom Hanks fans might take his career path for granted. But the actor — whose big break came on TV’s Bosom Buddies — has evolved a ton over his many years in Hollywood. Though he’s now a big-screen icon, Hanks’ first movie was a long-forgotten slasher flick. Somewhere in between, he developed dramatic chops and a deep commitment. Take his devotion to A League of Their Own, for which he relied on one food to gain weight.

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson wear black at the ‘A League of Their Own’ premiere
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson | Rick Maiman/Sygma

Tom Hanks famously changed his body for ‘Cast Away’

Despite how well-loved he is in the industry and by fans, Hanks isn’t often the type of actor one thinks of when it comes to transformative roles. After all, some stars routinely change their appearance to gain muscle or put some extra weight for a role. Christian Bale, for example, has done just that for The Machinist, The Dark Knight trilogy, The Fighter, American Hustle, Ford v Ferrari, and Vice. But Hanks has dabbled in on-screen weight change too.

Most notably, the actor lost more than 50 pounds during the production of Cast Away. Director Robert Zemeckis filmed the first part of the movie, took a break so that Hanks could lose weight and grow a beard, and then returned to shoot the footage set after his character spent years on a deserted island. The production gap was so big, in fact, that Zemeckis made a whole other movie, What Lies Beneath, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford.

The actor relied on this food on ‘A League of Their Own’

Though Hanks lost weight for Cast Away, he did the exact opposite nearly a decade earlier. In director Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own, the actor plays a former professional baseball player well past his prime. And to inhabit that role, he indulged in ice cream every day during filming, at the encouragement of Marshall. As for Hanks, he recalled on The Bill Simmons Podcast making that movie as his favorite experience of his career.

“I would say, probably number one would be A League of Their Own because all I did all summer was play baseball. I shagged fly [balls], ate turkey dogs, and took infield with Robin Knight and a ton of other people. I played baseball all summer long in Evansville, Indiana, and in Wrigley Field — you know, there was a day of doing that. And I had all my kids with me. I had all my family with me. It was a big-a– summer in the Midwest. We lived in a house in the middle of cornfields. We went to Burger King at night and Dairy Queen in the afternoon. It was a great summer. And my entire family still speaks about it.”

During the same conversation, Hanks names Cast Away and the underrated Wachowskis’ movie Cloud Atlas as his two other favorites. But it’s easy to see how filming A League of Their Own presented an idyllic all-American experience for the star. Certainly, given how memorable his performance is in that film — and how beloved it still is today — that joy he felt making it comes through on screen.


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Tom Hanks has two very different movies coming in 2022

Even though the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rages on, Hanks’ career has kept on rolling. The actor and his wife, actor Rita Wilson, were famously some of the first major stars to be diagnosed with the virus. But Hanks still had two new movies released in 2020, Apple TV+ release Greyhound and News of the World.

The next year, he starred in another Apple film Finch. And in 2022, Hanks has two very films in the queue. First up is Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama about Elvis Presley, the aptly named Elvis in which Hanks plays Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. Then he’ll reunite with Zemeckis for his live-action remake of Disney’s Pinocchio, out on Disney+ in late 2022.