From the Deseret News:
Tom Hanks’ son says he became actor because it was ‘all I’m really good at’
By Scott Pierce
Deseret News television critic
Colin Hanks didn’t become an actor because of his father, he became one almost in spite of that fact.
“It’s all I’m really good at,” he said with a rather nervous laugh. “It’s the only thing that I could get paid for.”
His father, of course, is two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks — a man who may be the most popular actor since Jimmy Stewart. And Colin, who’s co-starring in both the WB series “Roswell” and the soon-to-be-released film “Whatever It Takes,” knew that comparisons were inevitable. That while being his father’s son might open some doors, it might make it harder to go through them.
“It’s one of those things where it definitely has its benefits, but there’s a lot of down sides to it, too,” Hanks said. “And that was one of the main reasons when I took my little time off. I was thinking, ‘OK do I want to get involved with this?’
“I don’t really see it as following in any footsteps or carrying the torch or any of that stuff. I don’t really see it like that at all. But I know that, regardless of what I say, people are going to interpret it that way. And I sort of asked myself if I wanted to set myself up for that. And, inevitably, I just said, ‘Forget it. Yeah, sure.’ ”
Hanks, 22, is the son of Tom Hanks and his first wife, Samantha Lewes. He grew up hundreds of miles from Hollywood, in Sacramento, Calif. But whether it was in his genes or not, he was always drawn to acting, appearing in productions at the small private school (graduating class: 35) he attended in northern California.
“For me, it’s always been sort of like playing with toys. Playing with my transformers growing up,” he said. “It was always make-believe. And when they started offering classes in it in middle school and high school, I did that. And then when I went off to college (Loyola Marymount in L.A.), I took a little time deciding if that was what I really wanted to do. I was so unhappy not doing it that I said, ‘Well, OK. That’s what I really want to do.’ I majored in theater.”
He didn’t stay in school, however, instead opting about a year and a half ago to try to make it as a working actor. While his father didn’t offer advice on his career choice, the elder Hanks did offer some words of wisdom once Colin made his choice.
“He stayed pretty much away and let me make my own decision,” Colin said. “He said, ‘You’re good at it. You’re very talented. And you could definitely do it if that’s what you want to do. But if you’re going to do it you have to go full force. You can’t stick your toe in the water and then decide you don’t want to do it. That’s why I’m not doing school anymore because I wanted to concentrate on it full-time.
“Like he says, it’s the greatest job in the world. And for me, it’s something very artistic and very creative, and I don’t need to wear a suit. And I don’t have normal hours. So, for, me, it was almost sort of a no-brainer after a while. I found myself sort of fighting it, like, I don’t know if I really want to do that. But it’s so much fun. I look at what my dad’s been able to accomplish and the places he’s been able to go — it’s just, it’s fun!”
And, like his father — who found his first big success on TV in the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” — Colin has also found his way onto a weekly TV series as one of the teenagers in “Roswell.”
“The pilot was the first thing I was ever cast in,” he said. “I made a movie over the summer called ‘Whatever It Takes,’ but the pilot was my first thing.”
(He did have a small role in his father’s 1996 movie “That Thing You Do,” but Colin didn’t have to audition for the bit part.)
“Roswell” tells the story of teenage alienation — literally. Three of the characters are survivors of an alien spacecraft that crashed near the New Mexico town. Hanks plays Alex Whitman, who’s sort of a goofy (human) kid who is a friend of the main characters. It’s a role that has expanded considerably as the show’s first season progresses.
“There’s a lot of characters on the show and a lot of stories to be told and it just takes time for certain stories to be told,” Hanks said. “I was well aware of that at the beginning so I figured it would be a while before I’d be a major, major part of it. And that’s all fine. It’s just all interesting storylines and then finally it came time for me. They gave me more stuff to do and I was just happy to do it.
“I’m just happy to work. The first two months I only worked, like, seven days, but I was the happiest kid on the face of the planet. Now I’m working a lot more than seven days in two months and I’m still happy.”
And he’s playing another funny character in “Whatever It Takes,” which opens Friday.
“Cosmo in ‘Whatever It Takes’ is definitely a goofy character. The way he dresses alone is funny. I don’t think I would even have to say anything, Hanks said. “But Alex, I really don’t see him as the goofy, funny man. I think there’s a very big difference between being funny and being the funny guy. And so I don’t really see myself as comic relief, per se. But I do like to lighten it up and not make it so dark and sullen and serious.”
While “Roswell” has struggled in the ratings — it’s moving to Mondays at 8 p.m. on April 10 — there is at least one two-time Oscar winner who watches it faithfully. “He watches the show a lot,” Hanks said of his father. “And every once in a while I’ll get this call saying, ‘That scene with you and the thing in the kitchen, that was good.’ He’s very supportive. The whole family gets together and watches it.”
Not that the elder Hanks tries to influence his son too much.
“I don’t really seek out his advice too much,” Colin said. “I mean, you’d think if you have a big Encyclopaedia Britannica at home, then you’d be looking it all up. But, no, I don’t really ask him too much stuff. Obviously, he’s a very, very talented man, and if I ever had some big dilemma or some big thing I needed to work on, he’d probably be the second person I’d go to after my theater professor.”
But Tom Hanks did offer his son advice about the business.
“We had a few conversations where he said, ‘Look, I’m going to tell you this because I wish someone would have told me this when I started.’ And he sort of told me little brass-tacks things of how to handle yourself and be careful what you say and stuff like this — to be aware of certain aspects,” Colin Hanks said. “But he never really said, ‘You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ No, he was just very supportive. I asked him little questions about things here and there, and he was just great.”
So, with both Hanks in the acting business, is there any chance we’d ever see them working together?
“I don’t know if we’d act together,” Colin Hanks said. “I think when you do that sort of stuff the suspension of disbelief tends to be dulled a little bit. It’d be like, ‘Oh, look! It’s father and son and they’re doing that!’ I don’t know, maybe when he’s almost dead and I’m a lot older.”