Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Early Life

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, known as Tom Hanks, was born in Concord, California on, July 9th, 1956. Hanks continued to live with his father, older brother, and sister after his parents, Janet Marylyn and Amos Mefford Hanks split up when he was five. His younger brother, Jim, who is now also an actor, remained in his mother’s custody.

The family moved around so often that by the time he was 10, Hanks had lived in 10 different houses. The family finally settled in Oakland, California, where Hanks graduated high school and participated in various school plays. While in a junior college in Hayward, California, Hanks decided to pursue acting after watching Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh.

He transferred to California State University in Sacramento, joining the theatre program. During his years in college, Hanks interned at the  Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, which extended to three years. There he starred in various plays, and in 1978, won the Cleveland Critics Circle  Best Actor Award for his role as Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.


     Early Work

The year was 1980 when Hanks dropped out of college and moved to New York City, where he made his debut film in He Knows You're Alone. He also landed a lead role in The Mandrake, but what made him catch the eyes of Hollywood filmmakers was his role in the ABC television show, Bosom Buddies. The role caused Hanks to move to Los Angeles, where he starred in the show for two seasons.

His performance led director, Ron Howard, to seek out Hanks for his then-upcoming movie Splash. He was intended to play the brother of the main character yet went on to snag the lead role. Needless to say, the film went on to achieve massive success, marking his first major box office hit. From then on, the successful roles kept on rolling with the comedy Bachelor Party, his guest appearance on Family Ties, and his first drama role in Nothing in Common.

     Rise to Stardom

Hanks’ next success was in 1988, as he took the main character role in the hit movie Big, where his performance as a 13- year old boy trapped in a 35-year-old man’s body earned him wide critical acclaim. The role also gave him his first Academy Award nomination for best actor.

The following projects he participated in did not have the same box office success but still demonstrated his immense talent and range in performance. The only project in that time that gained reasonable success was Turner & Hooch.

However, the bad spell didn’t last long as he made his way back to the top with his memorable performance as a baseball coach in A League of Their Own. Afterward, hit movies just kept on coming. He acted alongside co-star Meg Ryan in the blockbuster Sleepless in Seattle.

And then came the role that gave him his first Academy Award for Best Actor in Philadelphia with the established actor Denzel Washington. In 1995, his most beloved and popular role in the massive hit, Forrest Gump, marked this period and gave him his second Academy Award. The win made him the second actor to take home ‘Best Actor’ two years in a row.

     An Established Movie Star

From then on out, Hanks was one of the most critically acclaimed actors in Hollywood and continued to star in nothing but blockbusters. His next role was in Apollo 13 in 1995, based on the mission carried out in the 70s. The movie was a major hit, earning nine Academy Award nominations and winning two.

That same year, Hanks lent his voice to Disney/Pixar's hit movie series Toy story, which is another one of his most memorable and beloved roles. The next year marked his directorial debut in That Thing You Do! He also went on to co-write, co-direct, and produce a 12- part docudrama called From the Earth to the Moon, which won him an Emmy.

In another groundbreaking blockbuster directed by the highly acclaimed Steven Spielberg, Hanks starred in Saving Private Ryan, recognized as one of the best war movies ever made. It earned Hanks another Academy Award nomination and won Spielberg his second best director award.

In that same year, he reunited with previous co-star Meg Ryan for what is now considered a classic romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail. He followed it by another success, The Green Mile, adapted from a Stephen King novel. However, his highest box office success during that time was in the second Toy Story film.

In his next venture, Hanks was faced with a huge physical challenge for his role in the iconic movie Cast Away, where he lost 55 pounds to portray a man stranded on an island. This movie earned him another Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award for Best Actor. In another Spielberg collaboration, Hanks starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit crime drama Catch Me If You Can. Hanks then went on to become the youngest-ever recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 2002.

Hanks took a short break from the screen to produce the box office hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Hanks was back on the screen in the comedy-drama The Terminal and the family film The Polar Express. In 2006, he starred in another major blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, earning $750 million worldwide, followed by the sequel Angels and Demons. Hanks continued to star in multiple hit movies like Charlie Wilson's War, The Great Buck Howard, and Toy story 3.

     Later Work

Hanks’ next critically acclaimed roles came in 2013 in Saving Mr. Banks and Captain Phillips. They each earned nominations in the Golden Globes and BAFTA. In Saving Mr. Banks, Hanks excellently portrays Walt Disney, while in Captain Phillips, he brings a true story to life in an emotional performance.

His next role wasn’t any less spectacular in the historical drama, Bridge of Spies, directed once again by Spielberg. He then brought another true story to life in Sully and reprised previous roles in Inferno and Toy Story 4. With multiple other significant roles, Hanks continues to make hit movies that, with time, will also become beloved classics.

Personal Life

While he was in college, Hanks met his first wife, Samantha Lewes, who is also an actress and producer, and got married in 1978. They had two children, Colin and Elizabeth Hanks, before getting divorced in 1987.

When he was starring on Bosom Buddies, Hanks met his current wife, actress Rita Wilson, and married her in 1988 after converting to her Greek Orthodox faith. They have two sons, Chester Marlon Hanks and Truman Theodore.

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