Tom Hanks At Screen Singapore: Charmed, I Must Say

June 20, 2011

There is much to be said about a confident man.

And when Oscar Award-winning actor Tom Hanks strode into the crowded press room at Capella Sentosa on June 11, he not only exuded an aura of cool assurance, he also managed to charm the media at the same time.

Taller in person and looking relaxed in his simple black polo shirt, 55-year-old Tom Hanks was accompanied by producer Gary Goetzman at the press junket. They were at Screen Singapore to promote the romantic drama Larry Crowne, which will open in USA theaters on July 1, 2011.

The movie (co-written, produced and directed by Tom Hanks) is about diligent, amiable Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) who decides to start over and attend the local college when he suddenly loses his job at a supermarket. There, he meets an eclectic bunch of classmates and develops a crush on his public-speaking class teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), who is also struggling with issues of her own.

The press conference started off with a cheerful Gary Goetzman telling us how he got to work with Hanks for “Larry Crowne”. Goetzman began, “When Tom wrote a script called That Thing You Do. Do you all remember that?” Many of the press folks chorused a loud yes. “I had the honour of producing it and we had a pretty good time together. So, we’ve been together ever since.”

With a twinkle of an eye, Hanks responded with a good-natured barb to Goetzman’s straightforward account. “That’s right. What an exciting story, Gary!” The roomful of journalists chuckled.

Continuing about how the story for Larry Crowne came about, Hanks affably told the press, “We started about it, Gary, Nia Vardalos and myself, about 6 years ago. Originally the idea started off with the idea about a man’s reinvention – a guy who loses his job and ends up in college. We actually imagined back then that, I go to college and Julia Roberts is my teacher. And guess what happened?”

Hanks revealed that the project was in progress for quite a number of years due to Vardalos’ and his own commitments. As the years went by, they added layers to the story, including the parts incorporating the changes relating to the economic situation and home foreclosures in the USA.

A question was posed wondering if Hanks found himself working differently since he was also the director for Larry Crowne. In a clear voice, Hanks admitted, “Probably, I gave myself more takes on camera than I gave other people, because I was so delighted by what they were doing. And because I was doing it myself, I might have let the camera run and do a scene fifteen times or so because I won’t know if it’d work or not. I’d have to find that out later on.”

Someone mentioned that Hanks was once quoted as saying that he has made 20 films but only 5 of them are good.To which Hanks quipped, “Yeah. It’s a pretty good average though, don’t you think?”
The journalist pressed on, “Which ones?”“I don’t know. I am not sure. Somebody else would have to decide!” Hanks declared, which set off another round of hearty laughter in the room.
“I think I have a pretty good track record and some do ok. But I think that was a joke when I was quoted. Because now, I think I’ve actually made over 30 films and 7 of them are pretty good.” The press room roared with laughter. “As long as both numbers keep going up, I’m satisfied,” grinned Hanks.

Later that night, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman both made their way down the red carpet at the Lido Theatre for the Asia-Pacific premiere of Larry Crowne. Their presence definitely added a touch of Hollywood glamour to the inaugural Screen Singapore’s closing.

By Tina Gan

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