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E Online interview with Tom Hanks: mentions Colin Hanks

Thanks to Melinda Metz for sending this in!

This is an E! Online interview with Tom Hanks. In it he discusses his son Colin Hanks and mentions Roswell. The sections talking about Colin or Roswell should be in bold (if I did it right!)


December 7, 1999
by Glenn Whipp

How many Academy Awards can one guy own? Well, if you’re Tom Hanks, and you’re playing a compassionate executioner in one of the season’s most anticipated movies, the early word says you should start clearing your mantel for yet another. The star of The Green Mile talks about dirty diapers, being unrecognizingly fat, growing hair and mounting a bid for the White House. And, oh yeah, that whole award-buzz thing.

GW: You’ve got quite a growth going on your face. What’s up with the beard?
TH: Oh, it horrifies people. I’m on a break from filming my next movie, Cast Away, in which I play, not coincidentally, a desert-island castaway. Either that, or I’m playing Ted Kaczynski in an upcoming Family Channel movie. I can’t decide.

GW: You could give Fidel Castro a run for his money, too.
TH: Yes, I could. This is three months of growth, which is longer than anything I’ve ever had. I don’t know, it’s just a beard. Everybody hates it, including me.

GW: Chalk it up to an occupational hazard.
TH: Well, it’s nice when you have the time to make a bit of a physical transformation. Otherwise, it’s like those old MGM movies they shot in 16 days, where nobody changes. For The Green Mile, I got kind of beefy, because there was an understanding that my character, a prison guard, could break somebody’s arm if he had to–or wrestle somebody to the ground. He needed to be a guy who really filled out that uniform.

GW: And now you’re fighting to take off the weight in order to look like a man who has been shipwrecked.
TH: I’m getting there. I’m 43 years old now, and it’s a little different than it was early on. The weight is a little easier to put on, a little harder to take off. My metabolism has, like, seized up. It’s really the exercise–that’s what you need. In all honesty, I was as big as a house for a while. I have some photographs of me that–you want to talk about unrecognizable–I don’t know who that guy is.

GW: It’s tough to sum up The Green Mile in a sentence or two. How do you describe it?
TH: What the movie is about–look, I’ll be damned. I’m not sure. I think that in a lot of ways, it’s like the great myths that communicate the complexities of being a human or the really good folk tales before they got turned into Disney cartoons in which everybody lives happily ever after. It’s a great paradox to be a human being in this world. That’s what the movie is about.

GW: The shorthand bio that follows you around is that you’re a nice guy who plays nice men. Yet you played a pretty dark character in Saving Private Ryan, and in The Green Mile, you play a professional executioner, albeit a compassionate one.
TH: Myself, I see a pretty good variety of roles. You make a leap of faith when scripts are presented to you. But all the movies I’ve made lately–You’ve Got Mail included–try to tell the truth somehow. They are society time capsules. And my job as an actor is to hit the marks and tell the truth and put in the kind of work that makes the audience believe me.

GW: And just how do you do that?
TH: You start thinking about your character as soon as you take the job, and by the time you begin filming, you have this huge, rushing river of images that you can’t even stem the tide of. I wish there was a better way to describe it, but there isn’t. Otherwise, you could go to some class or take a home correspondence course on how to be an actor.

GW: You have said that you wished you could have played the William H. Macy character in Fargo or the Kevin Spacey role in American Beauty.
TH: In either case, I would have jumped at the chance. But that’s after the fact, after I’ve sat down in the movie theater and said, “Oh, man. Wow.” These are fabulously human, wonderfully flawed human beings.

GW: Still, you seem to have a knack for finding great scripts.
TH: I don’t always get it. There are plenty of movies I’ve passed on, and then they turn out great and I say to myself, Why couldn’t I get that?

GW: For example?
Long before it was even a screenplay, I had heard that somebody was going to make a movie version of a book by W.P. Kinsella called Shoeless Joe, which I had read. And I said, “There’s no way you make a movie out of that book. They’re insane.” And it was called Field of Dreams.

GW: You’re building on the success of Saving Private Ryan with a 10-part miniseries for HBO, Band of Brothers. Why do you find the World War II period so fascinating?
TH: I try to project myself into it. When I was 22, I was trying to figure out how to get to junior college on time. And when these guys were 22, they were doing things like trying to figure out where they were in nighttime Normandy, having jumped out of an airplane with 100 pounds of gear on their backs. These are great stories. And the fact that my Uncle Ernie and my dad did this kind of stuff and never told me about it makes me even more fascinated.

GW: Some of your films–particularly, Forrest Gump–seem to work as signposts for the Baby Boomer generation. Do you see that as part of your appeal?
TH: I don’t necessarily see myself that way, but I probably am. In 1956, the year I was born, it was the peak year for birth in the United States. There are more people our age than anybody else. We could crush every other generation if we decided to.

GW: You make it sound like you’re tempted.
I think we should. Do you ever watch TV?
TH: It’s like, “Oh no, here’s another high school TV show. Gee, I hope this relationship works out for these juniors. Otherwise, what’s going to happen when they graduate? Their lives will be in shambles!”

GW: But your son Colin [Hanks has two children, Colin, 22, and Elizabeth, 17, from his first marriage and two, Chester, 8, and Truman, 2, with actress-wife Rita Wilson] is in one of these shows, Roswell.
TH: Yeah, he’s in the alien high school TV show. It’s a pretty good show, actually.

GW: Did you have him pegged as an actor?
TH: I remember seeing him in shows in junior high school, and I thought, Oh, he’s got the chops. I want all my kids to develop some passion for what they do, so it doesn’t seem like work when they do it. And that he’s been able to pursue that and actually land a gig, well, I’m ludicrously proud of him.

GW: Your passion for acting seems to go beyond just doing your job. On The Green Mile, you fed the cast and crew every Friday at your own expense and even staged a fireworks show.
TH: I don’t say yes to a project unless I’m willing to put in the work. And that means “Go, team, go!” It means keeping morale up. It means living up to my responsibilities every day on the set, whether it’s a short movie that finishes under budget like Saving Private Ryan or a long movie that goes way over like The Green Mile.

GW: Why did it take so long to make Green Mile?
TH: It was just one of those movies that needed a long time. [Writer and director] Frank Darabont has no life; you have to understand that. He eats all his meals standing up and never likes to take any time off. And he had an idea, an image of the movie in his head, and he wanted it all to look and sound the way he imagined. And since I think The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of the past 10 years, I bow to his expertise.

GW: It is hard to argue with the results. And now the Oscar drumbeat has started for you again.
TH: Where? There’s no reaction to have to that. It’s all part of the big sweepstakes competition that seems to grow bigger and more massive every year. What can you do? I mean, I hope I get nominated. It would be great for the movie. It’s a fun night. It’s a long six weeks, but if it happens, it would be magnificent.

GW: What do you think of all these actors who have purported designs on the White House?
TH: I think it’s delightful theater, fabulous entertainment for one and all.

GW: But not for you?
TH: [Laughs.] When would I find the time? I’m in my child-rearing years right now. I had kids way before they were hip. Remember that period of time when it was like, “Oh, it’s the nice thing to have them”? I’ve been changing diapers and giving baths for the last decade.

GW: Are you a tough dad?
TH: No. I’m a pushover. They can’t do anything to make me mad for more than 15 minutes.

GW: Are you doing anything special for New Year’s Eve?
TH: I’ll be playing cards with the kids at the kitchen table. And having a really good time doing it.