Some actors make a career out of playing the good guy, much like Tom Hanks has throughout the majority of his time on screen. But every now and then, the Academy Award winner does find time to cut loose and play a baddie. Well, if current rumors are true, Hanks is circling his latest villainous turn, and it's a pretty big one. You see, Tom Hanks may play the villain to Tim Burton's Dumbo, opposite Will Smith.
Variety grabbed the scoop today, around the same time that Will Smith was announced as another potential live-action cast member, in the story of a father whose kids befriend the classic elephant at the circus. Hanks' role has been described merely as "the villain" of the film, but if the live-action Dumbo follows the story structure of the original film, he'll more than likely be the ringmaster of the circus that Dumbo is performing in. All that's standing in the way of Tom Hanks' possible participation is another role he's been circling.
As previously reported, Hanks has been looking at playing a lead in the World War II naval drama, The Grey Hound. Should he take the role, the Sully actor would be playing a commanding officer whose going through a crisis of professional faith in combat. Undoubtedly, this other role sounds like a shoo-in for Hanks, as it touches on a couple other major roles that he's played throughout his career. While The Grey Hound is the safer option of the two, Dumbo's villainous lead could be a nice change of pace for Tom Hanks, as it gives him an opportunity to break out of his usual mold.
Despite his limited experience in villainous behavior, Hanks has certainly made for a compelling villain / anti-hero before. With straight up villainy radiating from him in The Ladykillers and Cloud Atlas, as well as his memorable turn as a mob hitman on the run in Road To Perdition, Tom Hanks isn't taking a completely alien risk by possibly playing the lead villain in Dumbo. If anything, the cartoon-ish nature of the film may help Hanks cleanse his palette before moving onto the next project that'll undoubtedly return him to his usual type of project.
Most interesting of all would be the fact that should Tom Hanks sign on as the villain in Dumbo, he'll be working with Tim Burton for the first time. Whether the more reformed or more indulgent Burton shows up to direct the film, having Hanks in the mix to work on either side of the Burtonian spectrum is an intriguing enough possibility to want to see where it goes. For now, there is no release date for Dumbo just yet, but production is looking to start in the near future.