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The Life and Career of Tom Hanks: From Forrest Gump to Larry Crowne

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Like a box of chocolates, this actor’s career has a little of everything, and you never know what you’re gonna get. Born July 9th, 1956 in Concord, California, he studied theater in college, but moved to New York City in the late 1970s. There, he began acting in stage plays, but entered into television in the 1980s, before starring in the decade's highest grossing movies. These included the romantic comedy “Splash”, “Bachelor Party”, "Big” and "Turner and Hooch." Eventually, he moved into more dramatic roles, such as portraying a homosexual lawyer with AIDS in “Philadelphia” and as a simple man caught up in amazing events in “Forrest Gump.” An Academy-Award winning actor, he has been involved in some of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look at the life and career of Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks.
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The Life and Career of Tom Hanks: From Forrest Gump to Larry Crowne

Like a box of chocolates, this actor’s career has a little of everything, and you never know what you’re gonna get. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of Tom Hanks.

Born July 9th, 1956 in Concord, California, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks studied theatre in college, but left to move to New York City in the late 1970s. He quickly signed with his first agent after appearing in a theatrical production of “The Mandrake.”

Hanks kicked off the ‘80s in the role of Kip Wilson on the short-lived sitcom “Bosom Buddies.” This caught the attention of director Ron Howard, who cast Hanks as the lead in one of 1984’s highest grossing movies: the romantic comedy “Splash.” Hanks followed this up with movies like “Bachelor Party” and “The Money Pit.”

The actor began showcasing his serious side in the 1986 film “Nothing in Common.” However, it was in 1988 that Hollywood really took notice of this young actor. The successful comedy “Big” told the tale of a teenage boy who wishes to be an adult, and Hanks’ role in the film yielded his first Oscar nomination.

A string of commercial flops followed however Hanks found success opposite a loveable dog in the buddy cop comedy “Turner and Hooch” in 1989. Three years later, he ruled the box office once again as the manager of an all-women’s baseball team in “A League of Their Own.”

In 1993, Hanks starred in one of the most popular romantic comedies ever made: he played a widower opposite Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle.” At the end of that year, Hanks showed off his dramatic skill once again as a homosexual lawyer with AIDS who is dismissed from his job in “Philadelphia.” Despite its controversial subject matter, the movie was a box office smash and won Hanks his first Academy Award.

The following year, Hanks portrayed the title character in “Forrest Gump.” This successful drama chronicled important twentieth century events through the eyes of this simple man, and led to Hanks’ second Oscar win.

In 1995, Hanks played astronaut Jim Lovell in a film inspired by the 1970 American lunar mission, “Apollo 13.” Later that year, he brought the character of Woody the cowboy doll to life in the computer-animated film, “Toy Story.” The successful movie spawned two sequels: in fact, 2010’s “Toy Story 3” was Hanks’ highest grossing film to that point.

In 1998, Hanks appeared in what widely credited as one of the best war films ever made: “Saving Private Ryan.” He then reteamed with Meg Ryan for a third time in the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.”

The next year, Hanks acted in the Academy Award-nominated drama “The Green Mile.” He followed that up by befriending a volleyball in the critically acclaimed 2000 drama “Cast Away.”

In 2002, Hanks played a hitman in the period piece “Road to Perdition.” “Catch Me If You Can” was released a few months later, and told the true story of con artist, Frank Abagnale Jr. 2004 was another busy year for Hanks: he appeared in “The Ladykillers,” “The Terminal” and “The Polar Express,” and that film showcased the actor in multiple roles.

Hanks courted controversy in 2006 when he took the role of Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of the Dan Brown thriller, “The Da Vinci Code.” Despite criticism from the Roman Catholic Church, it was the year’s second-highest grossing movie. Its success paved the way for a sequel: in 2009 Hanks reprised the role in “Angels & Demons.”

In 2007, Hanks portrayed an American congressman in the biographical drama, “Charlie Wilson’s War.” The next year, he starred as the father of his real-life son Colin Hanks in the movie “The Great Buck Howard.” Then in 2011, Hanks played the title character in the drama “Larry Crowne.”

Hanks has spent some of his career behind the camera as a director, producer and writer. His projects have included the mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon,” and “Band of Brothers,” the films “That Thing You Do!,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” and the HBO drama “Big Love.”

Thanks to his many talents, Tom Hanks has been involved in some of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time, and will surely go down in history as one of the greats.
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