Weird History
675 voters

Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Tom Hanks Movies

Updated June 24, 2021 4.4k votes 675 voters 38.9k views12 items

List RulesVote up the production stories that make you enjoy Tom Hanks's movies even more.

Tom Hanks is known for his huge film successes, including Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Big, and A League of Their Own, as well as being beloved as "America's Dad." He's Hollywood's Everyman, capable of imbuing any role with his own personal charm, and seemingly impervious to the many trappings of fame (plus, his Tweets are as wholesome as can be). Regular folks who meet and work with him often remark on his kind, down-to-earth personality.

Throughout his film career, beginning in earnest with the 1984 film Splash, his colleagues in Hollywood have told stories of his extraordinary energy, joy, and kindness on set, as well as his professionalism and compassion toward all crew members. This list reveals some of the most intriguing, funny, and heartwarming stories about filming with Tom Hanks, a man dedicated to his craft and bringing compassion to every set. 

  • 5

    Tom Hanks Insisted He Was Right For 'Philadelphia' Despite His Previous Comedic Career

    Prior to filming Philadelphia in 1993, Tom Hanks was known as a comedy actor, and had missed his first chance at demonstrating his dramatic acting chops in the 1990 box-office flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. When word went around Hollywood that The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme would be making a film about AIDS, Hanks told his agent he wanted the part of Andrew Beckett, a lawyer with the disease.

    Making the shift from comedy star to serious actor meant Hanks had to say no to other projects that came his way so he wouldn't be typecast, the actor explained during a talk at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival: 

    At one point in my mid-30s when I was making an awful lot of movies about the goofy headed guy who can't get laid, I realized then that I had to start saying a very, very difficult word to people, which was no. Saying yes, then you just work. But saying no means you made the choice of the type of story you wanted to tell and the type of character you want to play.

    Hanks's insistence that he play Beckett paid off. He won an Oscar for the role and went on to play a diverse set of characters across numerous films. 

  • 6

    Paul Bettany Punched Tom Hanks So Hard That He Farted While Filming 'The Da Vinci Code'

    The 2006 film version of the highly successful novel The Da Vinci Code had an all-star cast that included Sir Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, and Tom Hanks as professor Robert Langdon. While filming a fight scene for The Da Vinci Code, Bettany, who played the albino monk Silas, punched Hanks in the stomach so hard that the two-time Oscar winner farted. According to Bettany, the fart was especially loud because action scenes are typically filmed on nearly silent sets due to the risk of accidents.

    Bettany recalled to Esquire:

    I was like, holy sh*t, what am I going to do? It's Tom Hanks, the biggest star in the world, and I've just made him fart. He looked at me and I looked at him. And he went, "What's wrong with you?"

    The sound did not make it into the film, but it remains a fond and semi-embarassing memory for Bettany.

  • 7

    Tom Hanks And Steven Spielberg Worried That Working Together On 'Saving Private Ryan' Might Ruin Their Friendship

    Before Saving Private Ryan, close friends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks had not worked together on a film, worrying that doing so might strain their close relationship. But when Spielberg and Hanks realized they were interested in the same script, they discussed risking their friendship to make Saving Private Ryan

    Spielberg recalled:

    We got on the phone together and basically never had one conversation about whether we should mix personal with business. We just began saying, "Wow, what a great script and we can do so much with it"... Before you knew it we were caught up in the blizzard of enthusiasm, and we wound up making the movie. 

    The collaboration was successful, and Spielberg and Hanks went on to work together on future films, including The Post and Catch Me If You Can.

  • 8

    Tom Hanks Studied Young Actor David Moscow Being A True Preteen To Prepare For 'Big'

    In the 1988 film Big, Tom Hanks plays the adult version of Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old who wishes to become "big" and turns into a grown man overnight. The film required Hanks to play a preteen boy suddenly stuck in a man's body, a challenge for any adult who might not perfectly recall the awkwardness of adolescence.  

    Director Penny Marshall did not want Hanks to overact; she wanted him to channel the behavior and personality of a preteen. As reported by Yahoo!, she first filmed David Moscow, who played the young Josh, acting in all of Hanks's scenes with the other actors so Hanks could see how the 12-year-old delivered lines.

    Hanks himself also filmed Moscow acting out scenes with his friends so the older actor could try to replicate how the boys played. For the racquetball scene where adult Josh tries to keep the ball away from Paul (John Heard), for example, Hanks asked Moscow how he and his friends would do it, then reproduced their actions in the film.