Tom Hanks’ stupidest moment was filming iconic scene with Kevin Bacon

Tom Hanks has made some astonishing movies in his career, but cringed while filming his most iconic scenes alongside Kevin Bacon in 1995.

Tom Hanks in Apollo 13

“Houston, we have a problem.” It’s an iconic, instantly recognizable line, from, an equally iconic movie: Apollo 13. But, for Tom Hanks, it felt like one of the stupidest moments of his career.

Speaking in his latest appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Tom Hanks recalled how, when filming the scene alongside Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton, the real Jim Lovell was in attendance. Lovell, of course, was one of the astronauts on the aborted Apollo 13 mission, which would become the basis of one of the best Tom Hanks movies. “Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton and I were recreating the serious moment right after ‘Houston we have a problem,’ and were going up and down on grips making us look weightless,” he explained.

Concluding the anecdote, he said, “We looked ridiculous and when I looked down, there was Jim looking up at us… I have never felt more stupid in my life.”

Thankfully, Hanks was able to push down his ego despite Lovell’s presence and get through the filming of the scene, which is one of the most memorable of his career. And, in reality, though Hanks may have felt silly while filming the sequence in one of his best movies, that doesn’t come across in the final product.

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The sequence is an astonishing one, partly because director Todd Howard was so committed to realism. In order to achieve this, Howard secured the assistance of NASA to put his cast through genuine astronaut training and went as far as using reduced-gravity aircraft to shoot scenes of weightlessness. For his efforts, Howard’s movie was nominated for an astonishing number of Oscars, including for visual effects work.

That commitment to authenticity is something that can be seen in Howard’s other work too, perhaps most notably in 2022’s Thirteen Lives, which adapted an equally gripping real-life story.

As for Lovell’s perception of Hanks after the actor’s concerns about looking stupid, the astronaut enjoyed the movie and described it as “very authentic” even if it took some creative liberties here and there.

For more on Hanks, find out why he says Clint Eastwood treated him like a horse, and discover our list of the best science fiction movies too. Or, see all the new movies that are yet to be released this year.