Tom Hanks says he couldn't play a gay role today 'and rightly so'
In a recent interview with David Marchese of the New York Times, Tom Hanks talked about a range of topics including his most famous films, Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994), which won him consecutive Oscars.
Tom Hanks played a gay man suffering from AIDS in the film Philadelphia.
The following is a revealing portion of the interview:
Hanks in Philadelphia (video screen grab).
Q: We've been talking a bunch about cultural shifts. I want to ask about cultural shifts related to
Hanks: Timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now.
Q: That's exactly it. There's no way a straight actor would be cast in "Philadelphia" today and "Forrest Gump" would be dead in the water.
Hanks: Gary Sinise would not have been able to play Lieutenant Dan because he has legs?
It was a preposterous question, and Hanks rightly ridiculed it.
Hanks probably realized he may incur the wrath of the mob. He is "Mr. Nice Guy," and the reputation has to be preserved. Hence, he pivoted straight to what he thought his interviewer and others wanted to hear.
Hanks said as follows:
There's nothing you can do about that, but let's address "could a straight man do what I did in 'Philadelphia' now?" No, and rightly so. The whole point of "Philadelphia" was don't be afraid. One of the reasons people weren't afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We're beyond that now, and I don't think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.
Actor Eddie Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar for playing a transgender character in The Danish Girl (2015).
Back in 2021, when he was asked about his role, Redmayne told The Sunday Times that he
wouldn't take it [the role] on now. I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake. The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many [transgender] people don't have a chair at the table. There must be a leveling, otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates[.]
Like Hanks, Redmayne probably hopes his remarks will make him appear to be among the "good ones."
The question remains: if we go down this road, how far can actors travel?
Why just restrict it to sexual orientation? What about nationalities? Should British actors stop playing American characters? What about religions? Do Christian actors stop playing Jewish characters and vice versa? What about hair? Do bald actors stop playing characters with a head of hair?
This is an insane balloon of faux political correctness that can be burst only by stating the obvious and revisiting the basics.
The screenwriter and director have a vision of the world they are creating and the characters that inhabit their world. They choose actors whom they see as potential to breathe life into their characters.
Some filmmakers cast actors who have a striking physical and behavioral resemblance to their characters. There have been occasions where actors have shone playing characters with whom they have nothing in common, physically or mentally or verbally. In fact, many actors see this as a challenge. They use makeup and prosthetics, and they alter their body language and manner of speaking to create characters that have no resemblance to them in any manner.
In the end, acting is pretending.
Hanks currently plays Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker, a Dutch-American music mogul who became Elvis Presley's manager. Should Hanks have rejected the part and insisted that a Dutch-American of the appropriate age and physical resemblance play the character?
There also seems another problem.
The current liberal diktat states that we must accept the identity that an individual chooses, irrespective of biological realities. If this principle is acceptable for the real world, why not take it farther to the pretend world and accept any actor for any kind of role? A great deal of delivering performance is identifying both with and as the character.
This re-evaluation of older movies is not just restricted to casting choices of actors.
Last month, while promoting the latest installment in the Jurassic series, Jurassic World: Dominion (2022), the film's lead players, Laura Dern and Sam Neill, were asked about the first film of the series, Jurassic Park.
Neill referred to the fact that he is 20 years older than Dern, and hence the on-screen relationship between his paleontologist and her paleobotanist was inappropriate. Dern responded that it was only now, when they "returned in a moment of cultural awareness about the patriarchy," that she realized the age difference.
Dern failed to realize that the character is an educated adult woman who is perfectly entitled to be in a relationship with whomever she finds compelling. Setting rules on what is appropriate for a young woman could be seen as anti-feminist.
Last year, while promoting the Bond movie No Time to Die, the director, Cary Fukunaga, claimed that Sean Connery's Bond "basically rapes a woman" in one of the franchise's earlier films. Fukunaga referenced scenes from Connery's earlier Bond films Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). Gone with the Wind (1939) isn't being spared.
There is a common theme across all these utterances.
Redmayne, Hank, Neill, Dern, and Fukunaga have all reaped benefits from their past works. Now that they have crossed the bridge and earned their plaudits, fame, and wealth, they intend to blow up the bridge with dynamite made of faux political correctness. The result of these rules is that newcomers in the business have lesser casting opportunities.
The other goal seems to be to appease the woke mob. Hanks and the rest think if they attack their own works, perhaps the mob will spare them from being canceled because they are among the "good ones."
They probably think their shallow virtue-signaling and making all the right noises will help their careers.