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There’s a good reason why Tom Hanks is known as "America’s Sweetheart." Between playing Toy Story’s Woody, Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, a kid-turned-adult in Big, or Forrest Gump, the 63-year-old actor has collected a wholesome bunch of good-natured characters throughout his illustrious career. (With the exception of a couple forgettable ventures into bad guy territory.) Turns out, Hanks is well aware of this blind spot and has a good reason for it. Here’s what he recently said:
I recognized in myself a long time ago that I don’t instill fear in anybody. Now, that’s different than being nice, you know? I think I have a cache of mystery. But it’s not one of malevolence. It’s because I never get them, because bad guys, by and large, require some degree of malevolence that I don’t think I can fake.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Tom Hanks made an interesting distinction as to why his characters wouldn’t mix well with Billie Eilish’s viral tune. He recognizes in himself a lack of a certain malice in performance that others can access. He doesn’t think this has anything to do with him being “nice” – he just can’t get behind and become the kind of character who enjoys destruction for the sake of it.
It’s an interesting conversation about the actor to consider. Some might say well “you’re an actor” Tom Hanks? Every actor has his or her own way of approaching a character, and perhaps scripts he’s read asking him to be the bad guy have never sat well with him? There’s something to be said about knowing your strengths and playing to them. No doubt the actor has done exactly that as one of the most accomplished actors in history!
Though he has taken on dark characters in his time. He played an assassin (but a sympathetic one at that) in 2002’s Road to Perdition and a villain as one of the many characters he played in Cloud Atlas – though under quite a bit of makeup. He also took on the bad guy role in 2017 flop The Circle alongside Emma Watson and John Boyega.
Tom Hanks' latest role is as television personality Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The movie is receiving rave reviews for Hanks' performance as the children’s TV icon and its message of spreading kindness. The actor is getting early Oscar buzz for channeling the Mister Rogers host. Turns out he’s related to him as well, much to his own surprise!
Tom Hanks may have made a good case over the years to keep playing good guys, but wouldn’t it be intriguing to see him try the dark side anyway? His good reputation could just be the thing that throws off an audience from realizing his true intentions or he could easily bring us over to his side!
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in theaters now.