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Tom Hanks’ darkest movie character was originally even more brutal

We're not used to seeing Tom Hanks as a character willing to kill people. But even in Hanks' darkest role, he was keen to keep the violence to a minimum.

Tom Hanks showed off rare violence in Road to Perdition

We don’t associate Tom Hanks with on-screen brutality. He’s Hollywood’s favorite nice guy, and you expect a Tom Hanks movie to go down nicely with a cup of coffee and a cookie. But some of his best movies have seen him play against type – at least a little bit.

Perhaps the most obvious example of Hanks weaponizing his own persona is Road to Perdition. One of the best Tom Hanks movies, it cast our nice guy as a fearsome enforcer for an Irish crime boss. That’s right; Hanks has to kill people on screen. Even now, it feels shocking.

However, it could have been much worse. Hanks told Hollywood.com that one of his best thriller movies could have featured even more bloodshed, if they’d followed the Road to Perdition graphic novel more closely.

“In the graphic novel for Road, they describe my character as the Angel of Death and it was just loaded with bloodletting – razor blades, decapitations, I believe they even threw bombs. It was extremely violent,” said Hanks.

The actor explained that this element of the movie changed considerably when Sam Mendes came aboard as director, bringing a very different sensibility to the story.

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“Sam wasn’t interested in making that kind of movie. And quite frankly, neither was I,” said Hanks, describing the violence that does happen as “very personal” for all involved.

He added: “It’s loud. It’s very messy and it’s very uncomfortable. And this alters the level of that pure cinematic choice that you make. It’s got less bullets than your average James Bond movie, but the mayhem that’s caused is much more tactile and frightening.”

Road to Perdition certainly feels very different to the average gangster movie, and that’s something we can thank the dream team of Hanks and Mendes for. Even when he’s breaking bad, Hanks doesn’t lose his sensitive side.

If you’re as obsessed with Hanks as we are, find out his reason for not playing villains, explore why he hated part of Cast Away, and learn why the new Tom Hanks movie is a Yellowstone reunion. We’ve also looked at his recent film in our Asteroid City review.