Tom Hanks has gained a reputation as one of the last remaining straight white famous men who is trustworthy and still considered a Nice Guy. However, when you’re an actor who wants to play a range of roles and push the audience’s perception of you and what they might be comfortable seeing you doing, it can be an issue.
In fact, Hanks begins narrating the trailer for his upcoming film Elvis with the line; “There are some who’d make me out to be the villain of this here story.” Which suggests he is perhaps wanting to break out of the nice guy box and play unlikeable characters.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Hanks says that he’s sometimes had to argue with directors to allow him to do things that the audience doesn’t expect from the nice guy. “On Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg said, ‘I don’t think I want to see John Miller fire his gun and kill Germans.’ I told him: ‘I’m sorry, Steven. You’re not going to get me all the way over here and turn me into some other guy just because you don’t want Tom Hanks to kill soldiers.'”
Hanks continued; “We had this same moment in Forrest Gump. There’s the scene with the ambush in Vietnam, and Bob Zemeckis originally wanted Forrest to be confused and run away. I said, ‘Bob, why am I playing a soldier who is really good at his basic training without then showing me slapping in my clip and firing a set of rounds?'”
It’s understandable that audiences like seeing Hanks as a nice guy, but he also needs to be able to play other kinds of characters, and it looks like we’ll definitely be getting something different from him in Elvis.
Saving Private Ryan is a great World War Two movie – check out our guide to the best Steven Spielberg movies to find out if it made the cut.