One article from early 2018 in The Onion – a satirical comedic website and newspaper – was simply titled “Tom Hanks Vows He Won’t Stop Until He Has Portrayed Every Last American.” This speaks volumes to Hanks’ reputation as “America’s Dad.”
Hanks usually plays ordinary people pushed into extraordinary circumstances like in “Cast Away,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Philadelphia” and “The Green Mile.” But he’s also known for playing characters based on real life people like Jim Lovell in “Apollo 13,” Congressman Charlie Wilson in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” James B. Donovan in “Bridge of Spies” and Chesley Sullenberger in “Sully.”
But there’s another role Hanks played where he revealed recently he was terrified and had night sweats after agreeing to take on this particular part.
Tom Hanks is one of the most gifted actors in American cinema history. He put his name on the map with his Oscar nominated performance in “Big,” but it wasn’t until the early 1990’s when he became a household name by winning back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor with “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.”
Hanks may not be the greatest actor of all time, but he’s definitely in that stratosphere. One of the reasons why he’ll probably never don the “G.O.A.T” title is because he doesn’t play malevolent bad guys. You could argue his role as Jimmy Dugan in “A League of Their Own” or even Michael Sullivan in “Road to Perdition” have some anti-hero qualities but both turn out to be decent people (despite Michael Sullivan being a hitman/murderer for the mob).
Hanks said on playing evil characters, “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.”
It’s interesting to see an actor who is aware of his boundaries.
But even Hanks has some insecure moments even while playing good guys, and in this case, probably the nicest guy ever to exist in Fred Rogers, or as he was commonly known as, Mr. Rogers.
In an interview to Gayle King on CBS This Morning, Hanks said of embodying Rogers, “It was terrifying. There’s no such thing as an easy role to do. The moment I said ‘yes,’ I began to have the night sweats.”
It’s perfectly reasonable even for an actor of the caliber of Tom Hanks because Fred Rogers is one of the most beloved television personalities of all time. Tom Hanks is consistently referred to as being one of the kindest people in Hollywood so it makes sense for him to assume the role of an icon, but if he got it wrong or didn’t do it justice then it would be a huge stain on his career.
Hanks added, “Look, I have played a lot of real people. Fred was a very, very public persona. And everybody has an idea of what Fred is, what Fred was like, the mysteries behind Fred.”
Meanwhile, Joanne Rogers was over the moon about Hanks playing her late husband who died in 2003.
When she heard the news Joanne’s response was, “Are you kidding?’ when they told me about Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks was Fred’s favorite actor. And I didn’t know until recently they were sixth cousins.”
It’s almost too perfect, too coincidental, that Fred’s favorite actor was Tom Hanks. And although the Oscar race is more crowded this year, Hanks might just take home that 3rd Best Actor statue.