To honor Oscar-nominated songwriter Adam Schlesinger who tragically passed from COVID-19 complications, the cast of That Thing You Do has been giving interviews lately. Much of the talk has centered around how incredible the song “That Thing You Do” is and what an absolute treasure Schlesinger was to work with, but some great behind the scenes tidbits have emerged including a story about Tom Hanks giving a dad lecture to the young cast members.
I always remember this. We all showed up late. We got called into one of our trailers, and Tom was so nice. He sat us down and said, ‘That’s the last time that’ll ever happen.’… What he meant was: That was the last time that will ever happen in your career. I’m giving you some advice. Show up. Know your shit. Be cool Don’t be a jerk, all those things. He was really dad.
I’m sure there are plenty of other people in Hollywood who would do the same thing, but you can just hear that well-intentioned but stern lecture in Tom Hanks’ voice. He always seems like a man who doesn’t shy away from hard truths but has the people skills required to say them in a reassuring way that’ll get through. In some ways, he gave a similar lecture when he was honored at the Golden Globes earlier this year and implored his fellow actors to show up on time.
Later in the interview, the actors further hammered home the same point and told some additional stories. Apparently they were trying to film a scene and the crowd of extras was being too loud and started chanting Hanks’ name. So, he went out there, did the Forrest Gump wave in character and got everyone to quiet down. Tom Everett Scott also told a similar story about fan interactions…
He led by example. I’d see him interact with fans. If someone wanted him to list all the versions of shrimp he could cook from Forrest Gump, he’d do it. He’d play along. He knew fans love that stuff.
That Thing You Do has remained well-liked and frequently discussed since its initial release, but the movie has re-entered the public consciousness in a big way since Adam Schlesinger’s tragic death. The cast is participating in a watch party tonight to raise money for charity and will be taking fan questions. It should be a great time, and if you can’t make that, I highly suggest pulling out your own copy of That Thing You Do and firing it up. It’s one of my favorite movies ever made, and it somehow gets even more fun and watchable with every single viewing.