Tom Hanks on space and ‘Major Matt Mason’

June 22, 2011


Tom Hanks’ interest in space and space flight has been pretty well-documented. He’s made a movie about the Apollo program (“Apollo 13″) produced, wrote and hosted “From the Earth to the Moon,” about the early years of the Space Race (“I was in Florida, Orlando, for what, 13 months, back in ‘97-98?”).

And he’s optioned a famous 1960s Apollo era kid’s toy, Major Matt Mason, with an eye toward making a movie about the lunar explorer with the cool moon house and gadgets.

We talked about “Larry Crowne,” the new comedy he has in theaters July 1. But afterward, we talked a little bit about this great passion he has for the Final Frontier.

What draws you to space as a subject and a destination?
“There will always be sailors who go down to the sea in ships, or throw themselves off into the unknown void.

“You cannot look up at the night sky on the Planet Earth and not wonder what it’s like to be up there amongst the stars. And I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos. I want to see what it looks like, up close. I want to see what you can pull out of the ground, what minerals that exist there, whether or not there’s ice in those dark shadows around the southern Pole, deep in the craters.

“That is the way I was wired when I was young and growing up. Other people had their own international adventures as their goals. But the idea that I could turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and people were going to the moon while I was alive filled me with the romance of that endeavor. It hasn’t gone away.

“If they could offer up a way to go to the moon that wouldn’t kill you, I’d sign up. First in line. Just to see what it looks like.

What's your take on the uncertain future of America’s manned spaceflight program?
“It certainly is the end of an era, the shuttle era, and rightly so. It lasted longer than I think anybody thought it would. And it ended up being a lot more expensive and a lot more dangerous than one would have hoped.

“But this is just another phase we’re passing through. Dave Scott, who went to the moon in Apollo 15, has been a friend for years and years. And he said, ‘You know, this is like the days after the discovery of America. Columbus went to the New World, and it was years before others followed in his footsteps. It’s a slow, ongoing process, this business of discovery.

“We in the United States of America aren’t done with going into space and figuring out what’s there. Hand in hand with the end of the shuttle program, we still have that amazing science that came from that, ongoing. The images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the research from other satellites and platforms like the International Space Station. Our discoveries there will be ongoing. We just have to wait until come to the conclusion and the national will re-emerges and we get back into that business of going up ourselves to see what’s cooking out there.

“What will it take? Another space race? With who? China? Ok, fine!”

And Major Matt Mason? What was he to you? To me, he was the guy whose head my dog chewed off long before I was done playing with his space base.
“Oh, I bought three of them and wore them all out. I played with him so much that the little wire inside his arms would snap and he couldn’t bend them anymore.”

By otownrog

Source : Orlando Sentinel