1995 The Entertainers | EW.com


1995 The Entertainers

11 Tom Hanks

Imagine if Tom Hanks’ career obeyed the laws of Hollywood physics. Right about now, he’d be stewing over his latest movie that plummeted like a faulty rocket booster. He’d be asking advice from comeback king John Travolta. He’d be stuck in a meeting with a new agent: ”I’ve got five words for you, Tom—Bosom Buddies, the Motion Picture.” Instead, here we are, writing about Hanks as an Entertainer of the Year…for the third year in a row.

We know he was once capable of flops—spectacular, high-profile flops. The Bonfire of the Vanities — which starred Hanks as a philandering Park Avenue Master of the Universe — imploded so hard, it sparked a book, The Devil’s Candy. But that was 1990. Since then, Hanks, 39, has been on a gravity-defying ride. Consider: A League of Their Own ($107 million domestically); Sleepless in Seattle ($127 million); Philadelphia ($77 million, a Best Actor Oscar); Forrest Gump ($330 million, another Oscar, a zillion boxes of chocolates). Then came 1995: Hanks gave voice to Woody, Toy Story’s cowboy doll (anticipated grosses: infinity and beyond). And somehow, with his earnest portrayal of astronaut Jim Lovell, he made Apollo 13, a math-heavy story of three guys in a capsule, a $172 million phenom. A third straight statuette? Pshaw, scoffs the ever-humble Everyguy. ”[Apollo] warrants an award, but not me,” he said recently. ”They’ve had enough of me. There would be suicide jumpers [in Hollywood].”

Maybe this winning streak shouldn’t surprise us. Hanks not only comes loaded with strengths — a whiff of nostalgia, cute but sexually unthreatening looks, a gleeful enthusiasm — but he boasts a long history of defying Hollywood rules. His improbable career path took him from silly sitcom cross-dresser to gut-wrenching thespian. (Imagine Jaleel White in 20 years making a wet-cheeked Oscar speech.) He lacks an entourage, has no addictions, and yes, we have to say the N-word: He’s a nice guy. This year, Hanks bolstered his Boy Scout rep with a cameo on the sitcom The Naked Truth, a favor to his old Bosom Buddies producer Chris Thompson. And consider Hanks’ biggest tabloid scandal of 1995: A really big wave pulled down his swim trunks.

Someday, maybe, Hanks’ career will fall back to earth. He does seem to be tempting fate by his move behind the camera: He wrote, and is directing Liv Tyler in, That Thing You Do, a tale of a ’60s rock band in which Hanks appears only briefly. Whatever happens, he can always fall back on Bosom Buddies, the Motion Picture. Says Hanks, ”I would do [it] only if Peter Scolari agrees to a smaller trailer than mine.” That could probably be arranged.