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If a movie needs to cast an incredibly likable male character, Tom Hanks is a dream catch. The man has been making audiences smile going back to his television days in the 1980s, and he's very much earned an on-screen reputation as the modern day Jimmy Stewart. This makes him a surprising choice to play the antagonist in writer/director James Ponsoldt's upcoming thriller The Circle -- but the actor's personality actually wound up proving essential to his character. As while Hanks' Bailey winds up orchestrating a seriously scary world for Emma Watson's Mae Holland in the narrative, the legendary star's presence helps the audience still give his point of view an attentive listen.
Tom Hanks' casting in The Circle was the opening subject of my interview with James Ponsoldt earlier this week -- who I spoke with in advance of the brand new trailer that dropped this morning. I asked about the sinister fronts put on by both Hanks and comedian co-star Patton Oswalt in the footage, and the filmmaker explained,
The character that Tom plays, Bailey, he's someone who actually really believes in democratizing society through the accumulation and total dissemination of all human experience for all the right reasons. He wants to knock down the walls and give everyone equal access to the same experience, and make money while he's doing it! You've got someone who is kind of a cult of personality, and it's obvious why people would listen to him. And his decency, if not perhaps his slightly misguided decency, depending on what you believe, isn't the question. It was fun. Tom is the most game actor on Earth. He was the first person we cast, and he is completely aware of how people perceive him, and what he brings to the table. I think he had a blast, and he just delivered everything that the role needed.
In the movie, Tom Hanks plays one of the heads of The Circle, a technological company very much on the cutting edge. Emma Watson's Mae becomes an employee, but soon also finds herself as the user of a trademark portable camera that can be used to broadcast a person's entire life. Driving home ideas like "secrets are Lies", "sharing is caring," and "privacy is theft," Bailey preaches that complete openness is the only way for us all to come together as a society. Because this is a thriller, we know that this certainly will all be corrupted in some way -- but the question is how.
Taking his point further, James Ponsoldt also told me that an important part of his experience making The Circle was being sure that his movie wasn't carrying a message suggesting that all technology is evil and that privacy is totally sacred. Instead, he understands the incredible opportunities that come with advancements, and he made sure that voice is heard in the film as well. Said Ponsoldt,
Definitely a big goal for me was we go into a world, the world of The Circle, which is just a giant, all-inclusive tech company. It was really important to me to advocate for everything that was good about the company, and not just paint it as bad or particularly evil. Because, honestly, that's the experience that I had at tech campuses, is that they have so much to offer! They're pretty incredible. I have plenty of friends that work at them, and I think in our own lives all of the technology that we have, it obviously has so much to offer. And the transaction of what you cede for the convenience, it gets much more complicated.
Admittedly the new trailer for The Circle mostly drives home the creepy side of things, but you definitely do get a good bit of Bailey's message in there as well. See the full trailer on the next page.