Chapter 04 - Turning points
1988 - 1993
It was Tom Hanks’s portrayal of Josh, a 13-year-old boy trapped in the body of a 35-year-old man, in Penny Marshall‘s Big (1988) which really established his reputation as a box-office success and a gifted actor. The movie was an enormous success, grossing more than 150 million dollars at the box-office and earning Tom Hanks his first nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Though he did not win this one, his brilliant acting, which he called his "least fake performance", still earned him a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
The movie became a classic, and with it a few scenes such as the piano scene with Robert Loggia at the FAO Schwarz and the corn eating at the dinner party, which was actually entirely improvised.
Punchline was released four months later. Though dealing with a stand-up comedian (Steven Gold), the movie is more of a drama than a real comedy. Tom Hanks shared for the first time the screen with Sally Field, who played Lilah, Steven Gold’s love interest. Interesting to think that years later, Sally Field would play Tom Hanks’s mother in Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks wrote the jokes of his stand-up comedy himself and tested them going on stage in various clubs before shooting the movie.
His next projects were The ‘Burbs and Turner & Hooch (1989). Tom Hanks started working with Meg Ryan with Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). The Bonfire of the Vanities came out the same year in which Tom Hanks starred opposite Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman. The movie was a failure and most people consider that Tom Hanks was miscast for the role.
On August 4, 1990 Tom Hanks became a father again with the birth of Chester, his first child with Rita Wilson.
In 1992, Tom Hanks made his debut behind the camera with the episode "None But the Lonely Heart" (s04, e01) of Tales from the Crypt in which he also appeared.
Tom Hanks’s run of successes started with the supporting role of an aging vulgar overweight alcoholic baseball manager in A League of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall, and opposite Madona, Geena Davis and Garry Marshall.
This movie was a turning point in his career playing for the first time a “real character part”. His character, Jimmy Dugan, was first written to be a 50-year-old man but after a discussion with Penny Marshall, he got the job and gained 30 pounds in preparation for his role.
“There’s not crying in baseball !” became one of the most famous movie lines ever, and was even voted #54 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
On June 30 1992, Tom Hanks was honored with a Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1993, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan shared the screen for the second time in Sleepless in Seattle, directed by Nora Ephron. The movie was one of the biggest hits of the year 1993, and year after year it became a classic, ended up being mentioned in other movies and TV shows.
Though Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks only shared approximately two minutes screen time together, their chemistry was undeniable and would reveal itself even more years later in another Nora Ephron romantic comedy.
Once again, one of the most famous scenes of a Tom Hanks movie was improvised during the take, as well as a few others : the scene between Tom Hanks and Victor Garber crying over the movie The Dirty Dozen and Tom Hanks on the phone with his ‘son’, while in the restaurant, were both improvised.