Rarely does Tom Hanks play the same character more than once. Outside of his beloved and neurotic cowboy toy Woody from Pixar's Toy Story series, the only movies that have managed to lure Hanks back time and again have been his ongoing adaptations of the Dan Brown adventures centered around noted Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. So when I was given the opportunity to speak with Hanks about the Dan Brown series, and the latest chapter Inferno, he explained that these sequels are anything but a given, and it's always a conversation about whether it's worth mounting a sequel to bring Langdon back to the big screen. Hanks told me:
Ron [Howard] and I have a discussion, once the books come out, and its very specific. Which is, 'Is there something to wrangle from it? Is there something to discuss?' And Inferno, because it deals with overpopulation, and actually begins with an explanation of the dilemma by the character played by Ben Foster, [which] you can't argue with. It's actually the truth. Therefore, there's something on which to hang all of the scavenger hunt aspects of the rest of the Professor Langdon milieu.
The "scavenger hunt" Tom Hanks refers to in Inferno sends Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) around Florence, Italy where they are trying to locate a device that will release a man-made plague, potentially wiping out half of the world's population. The plague was created by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), whose concerns about overpopulation on our planet are a contemporary fear to which many people can relate.
The thing about the Robert Langdon movies is that they are inherently cinematic, and so far, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks have kept pace with the best-selling author. After adapting The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, they bypassed Dan Brown's D.C.-based The Lost Symbol, though Hanks told me why (to hear his answer, click here). And now, if Inferno connects with a large enough audience -- it's already off to a great start overseas -- then Brown is currently hard at work on a new novel that Howard and Hanks would get first pass at.
Here is Tom Hanks explaining why he keeps coming back to the Robert Langdon character, and the Dan Brown series of films:
Inferno stars Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy and Ben Foster. It is the third of Ron Howard's Dan Brown adaptations, and it will be in theaters on October 28.