Hanks says Wilson's work was 'selfless'

November 17, 2007

WASHINGTON — Tom Hanks says he doesn't have a voice as deep as former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson. Or as full a head of hair. But he has mastered a few Wilson trademarks: He can now walk in cowboy boots, slap his knee, and say "All-right."

The Oscar winner spoke in Washington Thursday on his role in Charlie Wilson's War, the upcoming film about the former Texas congressman as part of a $1000-a-head black tie Washington fundraiser for Houston's M.D. Anderson cancer center. Wilson, a longtime Texas representative, is best known for leading Congress into a CIA undercover operation to support Afghanistan's mujahedeen during the 1980s Soviet-Afghan war.

Julia Roberts and Phillip Seymour Hoffman will also star in the movie, based on the book of the same name by George Crile, which is scheduled to come out Christmas day.

"Charlie's dedication to this was really quite selfless, there's other people who have a movie made about them, and they only want the good stuff. They will lie to you," Hanks said in a lively exchange moderated by 30-year CBS news veteran and Fort Worth native Bob Schieffer in front of an enthusiastic crowd of about 400 including sponsors, Universal executives and cancer survivors treated at the hospital.

"Charlie did not. He kept digging at us and saying, you're making it too simple. It wasn't as simple at that, it was harder than that. He just wanted to get the story, what happened, and how important it was."

Wilson, 74, was slated to headline the event himself. But after his heart transplant in late September, he had to cancel at the last minute after doctors said he wasn't well enough to travel, organizers said. Hanks, who had planned to attend anyway, agreed to step in as top guest.

Before the event, Hanks chatted with the Houston Chronicle about prepping for the role with Wilson. "He really just kind of came around, spent a lot of time," Hanks said. "He walked into our office and charmed every lady there."Beth Newburger, a former neighbor of Wilson's who had visited the movie set, said that Hanks had nailed the Congressman's personality. "He really got it," she said. "It's startling to know Charlie and see him being personified."

Hanks called the movie "basically a piece of interpretive journalism.""George Crile's book says it all," he said. "We're just trying to bring the facts to a broader audience."

By Katherine Schmidt

Source : The Houston Chronicle