Colin HanksLeading

Colin Hanks moves out from the shadow Of His Dad

Thanks to Lisa for this :)

In his father’s footsteps
Colin Hanks moves out from the shadow of his famous dad
Edward Guthmann Saturday, January 12, 2002

When Colin Hanks decided to become an actor, he knew that the shadow of his famous father, double Oscar winner Tom Hanks, would always loom before him. “It’s a super-doubled-edged sword,” says the younger Hanks, who stars in the new comedy “Orange County.” “When I started out, it obviously got me a lot of auditions. But everything else was a downside: People already had expectations of what I was gonna be like and were eager to criticize anything I did. It was, ‘Oh God, let’s see what he can do.’ ” What he can do was first evident in “That Thing You Do!,” a movie — directed by his father — about a 1960s rock band, and later in “Roswell,” the WB-TV series about alien teens living on Earth. “Orange County,” in which he plays a Southern California teen who’s desperate to leave home and study creative writing at Stanford, is his first starring role. Inevitably, people search for the ways in which Hanks, 24, resembles his dad. They notice that the face and body shape are similar, and they pick up on the voice: same timbre, same rubbery expressiveness, same playful ironic edge. “A lot of people have said, ‘Wow, you channeled your dad there,’ ” Hanks says. “And I say, ‘No, that’s me. But because you know how my dad acts and traits he has, you see me and equate that to my dad.’ ” What’s a guy to do? “It’s genetic, I can’t help it,” Hanks says. “We’re all inevitably somewhat like our parents. And I’m not ashamed of it. That’s who I am.” In more ways than one, “Orange County” is a second-generation Hollywood movie. Hanks’ co-star, Schuyler Fisk, is the daughter of Sissy Spacek, and the film’s director, Jake Kasdan, is the son of veteran filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill”). Hanks already knew Kasdan and the film’s writer, Mike White (he played the dweeby loser in “Chuck and Buck”), from the days when they were taping the TV series “Freaks and Geeks.” Hanks was shooting “Roswell” across the street, and he would visit the “Freaks and Geeks ” set with his then-girlfriend, “Freaks and Geeks” regular Busy Philipps.

A year ago, Kasdan’s brother John told Hanks about the “Orange County” project. Hanks read the script — “I blew through it . . . best script I ever read” — and asked to read for the lead. “Very fun audition, very cool,” he remembers. “Caught up with Jake a little bit, read the scenes. And later that night Jake called and said, ‘Dude, I wanna make a movie with you.’ ” In addition to Fisk, the film co-stars Catherine O’Hara and Jack Black as Hanks’ needy mom and slob brother, John Lithgow as his rich but impossibly screwed-up dad, Lily Tomlin as a bungling guidance counselor and Kevin Kline as the Stanford writing instructor whom Hanks idolizes. The cast, Hanks says, “is a total testament to the script that Mike wrote. ‘Cause if the script is good, everyone will want to be in it, no matter how small or large a role.” Apart from the inevitable comparisons to his dad, Hanks says there’s another handicap in being the progeny of a major star. Invariably, people assume he grew up rich and privileged in Beverly Hills. ” ‘Fed with a silver spoon, given everything on a platter.’ That’s the exact opposite of the truth,” he says. “I’m 24 years old, so when I was born my dad was Joe Schmo like everybody else. I remember living in small houses in the (San Fernando) Valley and my mom or dad dropping me off at school in a beat-up Honda hatchback.”

When Hanks was 10, his parents divorced, and he went to live with his mom, Samantha, and his younger sister, Elizabeth, in Sacramento. Although he saw his dad frequently, he says, he considers Sacramento his hometown. “It’s a very normal city, laid back. I went to school with other normal kids and didn’t look at myself as being any more special than anyone else. “And then as I got older my dad started doing a lot better for himself” — back-to-back Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump” — “and he became America’s favorite guy. But, you know, I never really look at him in that way. I’m constantly amazed by what he does and the ability with which he does it, but at the end of the day he’s my dad, and I don’t really put him on any pedestal.”

Hanks lives in a bungalow in Santa Monica with his dog, Taz, not far from his dad. He says he’s close to his stepmother, actress Rita Wilson, and to his half-brothers Chester, 11, and Truman, 6. “We see each other all the time. I go and raid their fridge.” With “Orange County” and the press tour that comes with it, Hanks says he’s getting a lot of questions about what it’s like to be Tom Hanks’ son. “And to be honest, I totally understand that. If I wasn’t in this situation, I’d do the same thing. If I was sitting there reading the paper I’d go, ‘Dude! Gimme some dirt.’ ” “My hope is that eventually, with the next movie I do, it won’t be that big of a deal. I will have sort of gotten through the initiation.”