Liz Smith: Saluting Tom Hanks

Iconic star Tom Hanks

And more from our Gossip Girl: Shia LaBeouf — can he “transform” into George Clooney?

“ACTING is almost like a vacation compared with the workload that a director has. Also, the skill sets are totally different because an actor really only has to show people what he’s thinking while a director has to start having meetings eight months before the first day of shooting and continues having meetings nine months after its all over and you’re constantly talking, explaining, begging, asking. It’s like an actor is a dog running through a park, while the director is a dog trying to herd 6000 sheep over Cattleman’s Pass.”

This is the popular actor, producer, writer, director Tom Hanks, “the man” in Hollywood.

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I WENT to the movies the other day and the trailers that fascinated me were one from England, introduced by Derek Jacobi. It appeared to be about putting on some Shakespeare plays and happens this coming summer, titled “Anonymous.” Then there was the more contemporary trailer for “Larry Crowne,” which opens tomorrow and will co-star Hanks and Julia Roberts.

You can easily tell from this that I’m an old fogy. And I wasn’t much appealed to by other coming attractions such as robots ranging the earth, the deadly life from other planets, the end of the world as we know it, and lots of cars turning over and running into things.

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Watching Julia and Tom reunite onscreen in the trailer as failed college student and mature teacher, just reminded me of how terrific they were together in Mike Nichols movie version of “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

I also started remembering Tom Hanks, back when he was just starting his career. That was about 30 years ago. He recalls, “There was a period of time in L.A. when I wondered if I was just going to lose everything. My TV show had been canceled; nothing else had gone anywhere, some alliances I had made   petered out and nothing came of them … no work on the horizon, the phone wasn’t ringing. I had two kids, one of them a brand new baby, and I didn’t know if I would be able to keep my house.” (He made this litany of early woes to reporter John Hiscock.)

These days, of course, you know Tom Hanks is one of Hollywood’s richest guys, an active actor-producer-director, with two Oscars to his credit. And he can call up a big star like Julia Roberts and talk her into co-starring with him and letting him direct her in a film from his own mind and the pen of Nia Vardalos. (Nia is another upwardly mobile and creative person, who hit her stride under Tom’s tutelage by writing and starring in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” She has had several flops since that hit but Tom Hanks continues to believe in her. I feel she is highly underrated!)

The young Tom first came to my attention in the early 70’s in the TV comedy “Bosom Buddies.” Here, he played a randy guy who couldn’t afford real housing so pretended to be a girl in an all-girl dormitory type house. His adventures were many and I noticed him because my pal, Holland Taylor, was portraying an insouciant advertising exec who was Tom’s boss.

I loved Tom back then and I love him today. I can hardly wait for “Larry Crowne,” the story of a guy who gets fired, finds he has no resources and goes back to college in middle age to start over.

I will be very satisfied, I know, with the gift of what they call “romantic comedy.” I think it will beat all that action, terror, fangs dripping blood stuff to pieces.

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ENDQUOTE: “I would like to be George Clooney — diplomatic. I just don’t have the wherewithal yet or the inner serenity. My bullshit meter is tuned very sensitive. The minute it starts kicking up, I get back to truth.” That’s “Transformers” star Shia LaBeouf in Details magazine.

Shia rambles on, wondering, for example, if he’s wrong for being honest, and not posing for pictures when asked, or if he’s wrong for be dishonest, and posing while inwardly fuming? “Which is worse?  These are the questions I ask myself that George Clooney doesn’t ask.”

Hmm … first of all, we don’t know what George Clooney asks himself. Second, just pose for the damn picture, kid, and be on your way. That’s how George does it.  And so does Tom Hanks, for that matter.

12 comments so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Is LaBeouf griping about posing for pics with fans? I agree with Liz – just pose for the pic and be on your way. So long as the fans are APPROPRIATE about it – actors should honor their requests, then disengage and move on. Fans = box-office draw = career, so be grateful for them. If actors are so incredibly bothered by their fans they should have practiced their “art” as bit actors or in community theaters.

    Paparazzi are another matter….

  2. avatar LandofLove says:

    Tom Hanks has always seemed to be a decent guy in the Jimmy Stewart mode. More power to him!

  3. avatar D C says:

    I fall in love again with Tom Hanks every time I see him — in a movie, on Letterman, in an online story about a Letterman show, like yesterday.  They had several clips of a recent appearance.  Confession, I rarely watch Letterman.  It’s past my bedtime.  But back to Tom.  I love in him in that pure way — I don’t dream of hot sex with him.  I like the thought of being at the large table when he is holding court over a celebratory meal.  I think he’s just cool. 

  4. avatar SMALL TOWN GIRL says:

    I’ve loved Tom Hanks ever since Bossom Buddies too, just the way he laughs makes me happy,
     actually he’s my favorite actor.
    he’s the only person I can say I have seen all of they’re movies!

  5. avatar D C says:

    Shia LaBeouf will never be as cool as George Clooney.  He doesn’t have George Clooney looks.  He has Tom Hanks looks, and unfortunately, does not have the Tom Hanks brilliance in every direction nor the humility and humor to aspire to be a Tom Hanks.  Shia should just aspire to be the best Shia he can be. 

  6. avatar Laura Ward says:

    Shia LaBeouf another ungrateful young star who doesn’t deserve what he’s got.

    Even Johnny Depp drops his luggage at an airport to sign an autograph for a fan.

    Other grateful stars knows why they’ve gotten where they are.

    • avatar rick gould says:

      Good point, Laura!
      Very few of the biggest stars shun their fans…
      I’ve read lots of comment sections on stories about Liz Taylor after her death. And I have read at least two dozen anecdotes by people who encountered her over the years. And all commented on how genuinely nice she was to them, often agreeing to a photo, an autograph, and in a few cases, a hug. If Hollywood’s greatest star could do it, why can’t a piss ant like Shia LeBouf do it? These so-called hot young names are always forgotten in five years, anyway…

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Rick…

        Over thirty years of observing La Liz, I saw her lose her temper once  in public. 

        She always posed, even if it she couldn’t (because of the crush) sign.   Trained early at MGM she never forgot those lessons.

        In 1981 at the Night of 100 Stars gala, she suffered a hand held TV camera smashed into her head. (and was almost pushed through the plate glass windows  of the Hilton Hotel.)   She had a Jack Daniels and went on with her evening.

        Shia is a hot boy.  But really—get over it, young man.

  7. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    I am hesitant to voice my opinion on Tom because it seems all the guys I adore, eventually show a side to their personal lives that I find objectionable. But I’m going to risk it and say what I truly feel….I LOVE Tom Hanks!  He “seems” like such a sincere, down to Earth, warm, funny and kind man. I LOVE the way he LOVES his wife (at least what they show us in public), Rita Wilson. He makes women like myself that are single, long to have a man like him in our lives.

    He is such a sweet guy.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Belinda..

      And he was, once upon a time, quite a looker.  In his early movies he always seemed to end up in his underwear at some point. 

    • avatar D C says:

      I know how you feel Belinda.  I have always hoped my highest hopes that Tom Hanks would live up to the image the public has been given.  And I also think the absolute most attractive quality about him is how much he loves his wife.  There is nothing more attractive about a man than that.  Unfortunately, lots of women find that quality so attractive they decide to go after the men.  I would bet a lot (and I don’t gamble) that he has had more “hits” than most of the men in Hollywood.  I sure hope the last one he acted on was Rita. 

  8. avatar Maizie James says:

    Tom Hanks is an amazing actor. He’s played a wide range of characters, who you long remember. His, Viktor Navorski in ‘Terminal’ was brilliant. And, who else could have carried a ‘solo’ role as well as Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’. The only other actor to play a solo role brilliantly was Dennis Weaver in ‘Duel’.

    Although I’ve not seen all of Tom Hanks films, I am stunned that he has played so many diverse characters; from the role of mobster Michael Sullivan in ‘Road To Perdition’, to the scheming Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr in the farcical comedy remake, ‘The Ladykillers’.

    Forrest Gump will remain a classic, however Hanks did an incredible job playing Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia.