'Do you still like wearing women's clothing?' I asked Tom Hanks
March 16, 2013
Tom Hanks is one of my favourite actors, and a thoroughly charming man, but as a potential interviewee he’s proved more elusive than a photo of Lord Lucan riding Shergar side-saddle with Elvis.
I was due to sit down with him 18 months ago, after months of negotiation, but he pulled out at the last minute, his management citing those dreaded words ‘scheduling difficulties’.
A month later, I spotted him at a party in Los Angeles and seized the moment.
‘What happened?’ I demanded. ‘Be honest.’
He smiled. ‘Honestly? I was tired.’
‘That’s it? You were TIRED?’
‘Yep. That’s it. I had a ridiculous schedule and decided something had to give…’
Then he looked straight into my eyes and smirked. ‘And that something was you, Piers.’
‘I’m going to keep asking,’ I said.
‘I know, and I’ll probably succumb eventually.’
‘When you’re less tired.’
This morning, I finally got my man.
We met at the legendary theatrical restaurant Sardi’s, just off Broadway, where Hanks is in a Nora Ephron production called Lucky Guy, playing scandalous former New York crime-reporting legend Mike McAlary.
‘So you play a hard-drinking, controversial Irish tabloid hack plying his trade and seeking journalistic redemption in New York?’ I began.
‘Yes, Piers,’ replied Hanks. ‘You should be able to relate to him pretty well!’
We discussed movies. ‘What makes a great actor?’
‘Focus,’ he said, firmly. ‘It’s all about concentration.’
‘And who are the best actors of your generation?’
‘You know, for me it’s guys like Robert Duvall and Jason Robards, who don’t look or sound like movie stars but who, to me, are always fascinatingly good to watch.’
The rest of the play’s cast joined us, including an actor called Peter Scolari, who co-starred with Hanks in a TV show called Bosom Buddies 30 years ago. They dressed as women for much of that comedy series, and I’d arranged for life-size cardboard cut-outs of them in full drag to be secretly brought on set.
I waited until Hanks jokily harangued me for my tabloid past for the third time before unleashing my surprise. ‘Whoa!’ he exclaimed. ‘You can’t do that!’
‘We all have our shameful past, Mr Hanks,’ I countered. ‘Do you still like wearing women’s clothing?’
He laughed, but for the rest of the interview he called me ‘Pierce Brosnan’ by way of revenge.
I asked the rest of the cast to name their favourite Hanks movie. Two went for my own personal choice – Road to Perdition. It was the last movie I actually cried at, which I defy any father of a young son not to do too.
One opted for Philadelphia.
Hanks himself, perhaps surprisingly, went for Apollo 13, explaining, ‘I had such a blast making that movie with Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton.’
An oddity about Hanks is that he collects old typewriters. So when the interview finished, I presented him with an ancient Olympia model – the same one used in You’ve Got Mail.
He almost squealed with joy, and then began lovingly caressing its innards. ‘Look at this steel component,’ he sighed.
‘Oh, wait!’ he roared. ‘This is a correction ribbon! What a thing of beauty!’
My god-daughter Gabby is in America as part of her gap year, and I introduced her to Hanks before he left. ‘Hi, Gabby,’ he said. ‘You’d better seriously hope nothing bad ever happens to your parents!’
Source : Mail Online