Tom Hanks is comfortably uncomfortable in 'Lucky Guy'

March 29, 2013


Tom Hanks battles butterflies.

Before performances of “Lucky Guy,” the Broadway drama he’s starring in as departed Daily News Pulitzer Prize winner Mike McAlary, he frets and sweats.
Fame brings adoration but also expectations.

“Yeah. You can’t do a play like this without thinking, “Geez, what if I f--- this up,” he admits.

“But eventually you’ve got to be like Joe DiMaggio out in center field thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want ’em to hit it to me, but actually I hope they do hit it to me. I trust my skills.’ ”

Hanks, 56, has reason to keep the faith.

His star power looms at the “Lucky Guy” box office. The show opens Monday and has grossed more than $1 million a week during previews — rare for a play.

Since 1980, when he crossed-dressed on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” Hanks has cemented his status as Hollywood A-list. He has won Oscars for playing a lawyer dying of AIDS in “Philadelphia” and a sweet idiot savant in “Forrest Gump.”

He’s also navigated nice-guy leads in “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” rom-coms directed by his late, great friend Nora Ephron, who died working on “Lucky Guy.” Hanks, who’s had an apartment on the upper East Side since the mid-’90s, signed on to the show in October, four months after Ephron lost her long, and secret, war with cancer.

“Originally, this was going to be a magnificent hang with Nora,” says Hanks, adding that he worked with her and director George Wolfe on four preliminary sessions.

 

The drama begins in 1980s New York, a setting Hanks witnessed. “I was here,” he says. “I remember filthy subways. I heard crack vials crackling as I walked to a friend’s place.”

Bouncing around tabloid newsrooms, the plot follows columnist McAlary — famous for his bushy mustache and cocky attitude — through highs and lows.

That includes a near-fatal accident, a libel suit and coverage of the famous Abner Louima case that earned him the Pulitzer eight months before his death from cancer in 1998.

It’s meaty material. But Hanks wasn’t impressed when he read the “Lucky Guy” script, he says, “in the early 2000s.”

But he came to appreciate McAlary’s “moxie and hustle.”

Hanks says McAlary’s columns on cops — good and bad — were his “mother lode” and packed with “understanding and humanity. Everyone I interviewed said Mike looked like a cop. He was a big, tough-looking guy.”

The actor looked to his son, Colin, and wife Rita Wilson, who’ve been on Broadway, respectively, in “33 Variations” and “Chicago,” for advice on how to tough out the rigors of Broadway.

“They said, ‘You will sleep late. You will get up and slowly unfold like a card table. About midday, you’ll get a little spring in the step.

“Then you’ll have to have something just light enough but sustaining enough to eat about three hours before the show,” he continues. “I made a big mistake once and had a burrito the size of my head from Chipotle. And I had that at 5 p.m. ‘Dear God!,’ at the evening preview performance. Let’s just say I felt it.”

It wasn’t butterflies.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Source : NY Daily News