Asking someone what their favorite Tom Hanks movie is, could very well be a kind of personality Rorschach test. The Academy Award-winner has appeared in so many films over the years, with such a wide variety of roles and tones, that it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t have at least one personal favorite, but just saying, “Oh, I like Tom Hanks” also doesn’t guarantee that two people would have similar taste in film. Sports journalist and podcaster Bill Simmons put this to the test years ago, polling thirty people on their top three Tom Hanks movies and coming away with wildly different lists (with the caveat that Forrest Gump had to be pulled from consideration).
Years later, Simmons had Hanks himself on The Bill Simmons Show, and the opportunity was too good to pass up. Speaking with the actor himself, he shared the results of his poll — much the actor’s delight — and then asked the question: what are Tom Hanks’s top three Tom Hanks movies.
The result? Two fairly safe (although not necessarily obvious) choices and one that came straight out of left field. We promise, this won’t be the last baseball joke.
“I would not do it according to the way the movies came out,” Hanks said. “I would do by way of the personal experience that I had when I was doing them, which is very different.”
For that reason, he said, the top choice would be A League of Their Own, which he said provided a summer that he and his entire family — who were on location with him — still talk about years later.
“All I did all summer was play baseball,” Hanks said. “I shagged flies. I ate turkey dogs. I took infield with (co-star) Robin Knight and a ton of other people. I played baseball all summer long in Evansville, Indiana, and in Wrigley Field. There was a day of doing that.”
His next choice was Cast Away, another movie that was a hit commercially and critically, and one that gave Hanks a lot of challenges as an actor, since so much of the movie was a showcase for his acting without anyone to bounce off of.
“We just had bold adventures when we were making that movie,” Hanks said. “We were out in the middle of the ocean trying to grab shots. And we were off in Fiji on two different occasions and, again, had my whole family with me. There was nothing but adventures every single day.”
And then? Cloud Atlas. The critical and commercial bomb is the most recent film on Hanks’s list, and it seems that even though the movie didn’t pan out the way everyone involved had hoped, Hanks still enjoyed the shoot and admired the film’s ambition.
“We shot it on a hope and a dream and nothing but a circle of love in Berlin and Mallorca and Dresden and I want to say, did we go to Dusseldorf? Did we go to Frankfurt?” Hanks mused, adding, “That was the first time I’d ever shot extensively in Germany and I was surrounded by history — but the work itself was, we were part of this big, massive ensemble of fantastic people who were just trying to do the hardest, best work on this deep throw.”
And a guy who played that much baseball knows about deep throws.
(Sorry. We’ll see ourselves out.)
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