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Steven Spielberg fell in love with Tom Hanks in a surprising place

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are now one of the great Hollywood partnerships, but Spielberg first found the work of his leading man in an unusual place.

Steven Spielberg fell in love with Tom Hanks in a surprising place

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have now delivered five top-quality collaborations on the big screen. Some of the best movies of the last few decades have been born from this bond, which stands alongside DiCaprio-Scorsese and Washington-Fuqua as one of the best actor-director partnerships in Hollywood today.

Hanks was a massive star by the time he first worked with Steven Spielberg in director mode on Saving Private Ryan – just casually starting their bond with one of the best war movies ever – but it wasn’t one of the best Tom Hanks movies that convinced Spielberg of the star’s genius. In fact, he first witnessed the charms of Tom Hanks on the forgotten ’80s sitcom Bosom Buddies.

Bosom Buddies ran from 1980 until 1982 on ABC and starred Hanks and Peter Scolari as two friends who disguised themselves as women to take advantage of a great deal on an apartment in a female-only building. It might not be one of the best comedy series ever, but its improvisational style made a star of Hanks.

It turns out that one of the show’s fans was a certain Mr Spielberg, who was already making his name as one of the best directors in Hollywood off the back of some of his best movies, like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

“I was a big fan of Tom in Bosom Buddies,” Spielberg told FlavourMag. “He also did a movie in Israel that I liked a lot [Every Time We Say Goodbye] and then Volunteers with Rita Wilson. So I was really acquainted with his work before we did The Money Pit [on which Spielberg was exec producer].”

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So it was Bosom Buddies that first alerted Spielberg to the gargantuan potential of his future leading man of choice. But when they finally did work together, Spielberg discovered just how clear it was that Hanks would become one of the best actors ever.

Spielberg said: “The first thing I noticed about Tom is that I never caught him acting. He said the lines as if there was no script, there was no director, no lights and he was just talking to me.”

We can definitely recognize Spielberg’s analysis there. That’s what watching a Tom Hanks movie feels like. All of the artifice of cinema falls away and it feels as if his likeable everyman characters are talking directly to us. That’s why we love him so much. And we didn’t even have to see Bosom Buddies.

For more of this lovable duo, find out which Steven Spielberg movie Tom Hanks wishes he could have been in and check out our list of the best Steven Spielberg movies, as well as the disturbing true story behind Spielberg’s Poltergeist. As for new movies, look ahead to The Marvels and Superman Legacy.