Tom Hanks

Actor, Director, Writer

1956-07-09 (66 years old) Concord, California, United States

Hanks' career track is the stuff of showbiz legend. After two seasons on the silly sitcom Bosom Buddies (in drag, no less), the affable actor came to prominence with the 1984 romantic comedy Splash. Then a string of big-screen flops (Turner & Hooch, The Money Pit and Bonfire of the Vanities, to name just a few) tarnished Hanks' reputation. Aside from his Oscar-nominated turn as an overgrown kid in 1988 dramedy Big---as well as an underrated performance in the stand-up comedy drama Punchline that same year---he seemed washed up by the early '90s. But by mid-decade, Hanks had finally scored a slew of commercial and critical hits, earning two successive Oscars (as a gay lawyer dying of AIDS in 1993's Philadelphia and as a mentally challenged man in 1994's Forrest Gump), along with the respect of his peers, the public's love and a hefty per-project pay raise. Dubbed a latter-day James Stewart because of his everyman likability, the actor was careful to avoid typecasting. Although Hanks played plenty of heroes (including Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story franchise), they were usually complicated and flawed, and he never portrayed outright villains---though his turn as a mob enforcer in the 2002 period drama Road to Perdition came close. He also branched out into writing, producing and directing with the 1996 feature That Thing You Do! and, a few years later, the Emmy-winning World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. The quintessential nice guy counted several A-list directors among his friends/fans, and he collaborated multiple times with Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, The Pacific, Bridge of Spies) and Ron Howard (Splash, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Inferno). Hanks also distinguished himself from other megastars by staying in the spotlight but out of the tabloids, with a stable off-screen life with his actor wife, Rita Wilson, and their children.

Facts Awards
  • A distant relative of Abraham Lincoln, through Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks.
  • Remembering Hanks from a 1982 episode of Happy Days, Ron Howard hired him for the 1984 comedy Splash. Howard later directed him in Apollo 13 (1995) and The Da Vinci Code (2006).
  • Made his feature directing debut in 1996 with the music-business comedy That Thing You Do!
  • In 2002, at age 46, became the youngest actor to receive the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.