The presence of Tom Hanks is an instant win for almost any movie, and with his reputation for greatness (not to mention the fact that he’s a two-time Oscar winner) you’d imagine that Tom Hanks would be welcomed into any cast. In the case of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s classic crime drama movie Catch Me If You Can, though, the man had to invite himself to join the party.
Released in 2002, Catch Me If You Can is one of the best movies based on a true story (and a remarkable true story at that) which follows the young Frank Abagnale Jr as he poses as an American pilot in order to pull off a series of cons. Tom Hanks stars as an FBI agent determined to track him down. It’s one of the best Steven Spielberg movies of the era, and marks a brilliant collaboration between Spielberg, Hanks, and DiCaprio, which is surely some kind of cinematic holy trinity.
However, Hanks wasn’t originally part of the plan. “Tom invited himself into the project,” said Spielberg, while speaking to Roger Ebert in the year of the movie’s release.
Explaining the situation, the director recalled, “Tom had read the script as a writing sample and called me and Walter Parkes, the co-producer, and said, ‘Can I be in this movie? Do you think Steven would let me play the FBI agent? I really know who this guy is.’ And then Tom called me and he said, ‘Can I kinda horn in here?’ And I said, my God, what do you mean horn in?”
Spielberg continued, “Then he called Leo and said, ‘Is it an imposition for me to be this movie which is clearly your film? You’re carrying it. Would it be an imposition upon you if I played the FBI agent?’ Leo thought that heaven had just come down to earth for him. So in a sense, Tom invited himself into the project in such a humble, beautiful way.”
Classic Tom Hanks, humble as ever, even when forcing himself into a movie. It all worked out for the best, of course, and Catch Me If You Can stands as one of the best Tom Hanks movies of that era. It’s an incredibly fun international caper which became an instant classic upon its release.
Since Catch Me If You Can, Hanks and Spielberg have teamed up again for The Post, Bridge of Spies, and The Terminal, each of which are worth a watch on their own merits.
For more on Hanks, find out why he said Clint Eastwood treated him like a horse. Of, if you’re in a Spielberg mood, see which movie he says Jaws is a secret sequel to and read our The Fabelmans review to get our thoughts on his latest. You can also see our picks for the best movies of all time and check out all the new movies coming in 2023.