9th of July also happens to be my most favourite actor, Thomas Jeffery Hanks, popularly known as Tom Hanks’s birthday, so here is my tribute to five of his best roles from his movies that I have watched so far.
1. Viktor Navorski in The Terminal (2004)
One of the finest movies of all times, The Terminal, saw two legends working together (again) – Spielberg and Hanks. I can’t imagine Navorski through any other actor than Tom Hanks. He practically lived the character as such. His accent, the innocence in his expression, the subtleties in showing the pathos, everything in it is top class and so perfect, we remember Viktor Navorski as Navorski, not as Tom Hanks. There isn’t another example to illustrate what versatility in an actor is as in this one.
2. Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump (1994)
Another epic movie and an epic characterisation by Tom Hanks, that won him back to back Academy award after Philadelphia. Hanks as the unintelligent but omnipresent Gump was so perfect, every scene is etched in memory, be it his run back to get Bubba despite his General firing at him, his ping pong practice, his epic speech that no one could hear, his scenes with Jenny, only Tom Hanks could have done it so very well and make such characters immortal. Something, the director of the movie, Rob Zemeckis repeatedly said as the reason in making this movie itself for Tom Hanks!
3. Captain Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 (1995)
A Ron Howard movie on the aborted lunar mission of NASA, Apollo 13 is a classic and who else other than Tom Hanks could have filled in that role as the commander of the mission, Jim Lovell so perfectly well! Jim Lovell when he wrote the book had Kevin Costner in mind but the role landed up with Tom Hanks by the time Ron Howard was the director. His lines “Houston, we have a problem” and the line just before the re-entry, in the return journey, “Gentlemen, it was a privilege flying with you”, still reverberate.
4. Charlie Wilson in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
As Texan Congressman Charlie Wilson whose covert dealings in Afghanistan to support the rebels in their war with Soviets, Tom Hanks made the role remarkable. The Texan accent and even the gait, was so very well done, and Aaron Sorkin’s phenomenal writing made it another memorable movie of his. It wasn’t easy for Tom Hanks to make his mark in this especially amidst two other top actors, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman who shone equally well in that movie.
5. Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (1993)
As a HIV infected man who was wrongfully dismissed by his law firm, Tom Hanks portrayed this sensitive role very subtly to brilliant effect that deservedly got him, his first Oscar for the Best Actor. Though I liked Denzel Washington in this movie much more, Hanks’s ability to underplay and be a second fiddle to Denzel, despite being the top billed star is what makes him so very special, that I can’t imagine if any of the Bollywood superstars would ever do!
Well, I haven’t watched Saving Private Ryan, so could not include it. Castaway and You’ve got mail couldn’t make the cut as I have to pick my best five. I was honestly disappointed by Da Vinci Code and I thought Captain Phillips could have been done by any other actor. It isn’t because these movies are any less in terms of class or standard, but with Tom Hanks, everything including expectations, are several notches higher.
Wishing the star a very happy birthday and a long and healthy life ahead and let him regale us with many more wonderful on screen performances.