No more Mr Nice Hanks

January 26, 2008


Who you calling nice? If there is one thing that gets on actor Tom Hanks' nerves, it is people saying he never plays a bad guy.

Tom Hanks is fed up with his baddies coming out good – and he's ready to blow.

There's infamous footage taken a few years ago of Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson walking hand in hand along a Malibu beach at sunset.

The footage was taken by a paparazzo with a handycam.

The two-time Oscar winner allowed the guy to capture a few minutes, but when he didn't retreat, Hanks became angry and confronted him.

It is memorable footage because it is rare to see Hanks angry, let alone blow his top.

If there was an Oscar for Hollywood's genuine nice guy, Hanks would be nominated each year because, from all reports from his movie colleagues, friends and media who have interviewed him during his 30-year acting career, he is a great bloke.But, be warned.

Apart from an annoying paparazzo, there is another trick to stoking Mr Hollywood Nice Guy's inner fire.Ask him why he always plays the nice fella in films, and never the villain.
The question came recently at the end of a long day of interviews for Hanks and his co-stars, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to publicise their new political drama, Charlie Wilson's War.Hanks was sitting at a table with six journalists from publications around the world.
"Okay," Hanks replied, taking a big breath after a female European journalist asked the "nice guy" question."All right," Hanks, still steadying himself, said.

A few seconds later the actor teed off."I'm in an interesting position because, quite frankly, I co-operate," Hanks explained, speaking clearly and slowly, but with a tone that warned he was about to let rip on the journalist, just as he did to the paparazzo on the Malibu beach.
"I come around and talk to the press and I don't want to be bored, so I would rather make myself laugh and tell stories than be a surly guy. This is how I am. I'm not going to sit here and be bored. I'm chatty and nice."

"Okay, so I play a guy in a movie [Road to Perdition] in which I shoot a guy in the head and machine-gun to death everybody else that is in the movie," Hanks said. "You know what the media says to me? They say: 'Yeah, but you were a nice guy.' I played an executioner [The Green Mile], a guy's whose job it was to execute people – to strap them down, hook them up and then zap them. You know what the media said? They said: 'Yeah, but you were a nice executioner.' Now, right now, I'm playing a guy [Charlie Wilson's War] who has sex with every chick he can, goes to bed drunk every night, snorted coke and got away with it. You know what the media is going to say? They'll say: 'Yeah, but you were a nice guy. You were so charming when you did it'."

Hanks then began listing films in which he was indeed a villain.

At the end of the spray, with the offending European journalist almost in a foetal position, Hanks let out a laugh.No, he could not keep up the tough guy act for long, but he had made his point.

Hanks plays Charlie Wilson, a Texan congressman whose boozing and womanising exploits in Washington DC in the 1970s and 80s were as legendary as his secret campaign to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Early in the film, audiences are treated to the sight of Hanks naked in a spa in a Las Vegas hotel suite with three strippers."I went into the career specifically so I could end up naked in a jacuzzi with strippers," Hanks cracked.

At the age of 51, Hanks did not mind shedding clothes for the camera. Neither did the actresses who shared the scene have a problem with it, he said."By the time we got there, we all had so many lunches together it was, 'Okay, everybody let's drop 'em. Let's jump right in,' " Hanks laughed.

The movie is based on fact and real-life characters, with Roberts portraying Houston socialite Joanne Herring and Hoffman playing CIA agent Gust Avrakotos.

Wilson orchestrated a covert plan involving an unlikely alliance of enemies, including Egypt, Israel and Pakistan, to arm Mujahedin freedom fighters in Afghanistan to overthrow occupying Soviet Union forces.

He managed to lift US funding for covert operations in Afghanistan from $US5 million ($NZ6.6 million) to $US1 billion annually without the US publicly acknowledging it was funding the guerilla war against the Soviets.Wilson, now aged 76 and the recent recipient of a heart transplant, was involved in making the film.

"Charlie came in really early on," Hanks explained. "He said: 'I don't care what you say about me. You can show me doing anything. I don't care. I did it all anyway. That's all true.' But he was just dead set on us getting his motivations right and getting what he viewed was the important story told. Charlie believed what he was doing was essentially defending the people of Afghanistan. He hated the Soviet Union. He wanted the Soviet Union to lose a war and the US had never gone head-to-head against the Soviet Union. When we went head-to-head against the Communists we lost every time. We lost in Vietnam and we fought them to a draw in Korea and he wanted a victory. But we couldn't do it with our boys. We weren't going to go and invade East Germany. He saw this as an opportunity to defeat the most feared military force of aggression in the world and, in doing so, save the people of Afghanistan."

The covert campaign Wilson devised was not made public until American 60 Minutes aired a profile on the Texan congressman in 1988.

"Charlie severed the Achilles heel of the Soviets," Hanks said. "It was nine months after they pulled out of Afghanistan that the Berlin Wall fell down. One of the reasons it fell was because the Soviet leadership knew the cream of their armed forces had been decimated by a bunch of people in a place called Afghanistan."

Source : Stuff