Tom Hanks’ Second Greatest Passion: Writing

Tom Hanks’ Second Greatest Passion: Writing

It’s no secret that multiple Oscar award-winning actor, Tom Hanks, is one of Hollywood’s greats.

Not only is he one of the most renowned actors in the world, but he’s also well-revered for his charming persona and off-screen accomplishments, which have won him the hearts of millions.

Hanks is a very proactive member of society, and known for using his fame as a platform to promote positive and much-needed change.  He’s lent his star-power to several environmental causes, routinely supports the defense forces, and participates in rally’s for political movements and democratic campaigns.

One lesser known trait about the star is that he is a fabulous writer, often claiming that writing is one of his greatest life passions. This hobby explains why one of his biggest idiosyncrasies involves a vast and growing collection of vintage-style typewriters which he uses to write with everyday. The nature of his writing usually involves many short stories which alternate between being whimsical and extremely moving. He’s even published a best-selling collection of 17 short-stories called ‘Uncommon Type,’ with the help of his trusty typewriters.

Hanks decided to pursue writing after being influenced by film-writer, journalist and filmmaker Nora Ephron, who wrote the super successful film, ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ (1993) which Hanks starred in. Ephron was the first person to nudge Hanks to follow his passion for writing after seeing that he holds a natural given talent for the subject, and assuring him that his writing would take him far. It all started because the two had a disagreement regarding the script Ephron had written about Hanks’ character in ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ He did not agree with the way his character was being portrayed in regards to the greater storyline, and instead wrote his own bits to prove his own abilities. Ephron was impressed with his changes, and to his surprise, requested for him write more.

Hanks says that even in his production office, Playtone, the focus has and will always be on stories, that it is a space dedicated to discussing and creating intriguing and unique stories. Sometimes the committee members argue about which medium to use to best present the stories they come up with. Hanks explains that every story has its own medium where it can best be showcased, and that every story is not meant for film or a television mini-series.

The scripts that spark his interest the most are those which shed light on most genuine aspects of human behaviour. He’s a strong believer that the best pieces of literature are those that have protocol associated to circumstances and have logic associated to the chain of events, so he encourages other writers to use the same trope.

Rightfully so, Hanks claims that this way of writing script offers a point of affinity to the audience, who can then put themselves in the shoes of each characters and ask themselves the same question– “What would I do in this circumstance?” His guiding belief is that if the audience can relate to the character, then they are bound to enjoy the story.

Many book critics, including NPR, have stated that one of the core reasons of Hanks’ success, both as a writer and an actor is his ability to add a sweeter, gentler touch to his performance. The decency he displays on-screen are avidly reflected in his books as well. None of his characters are ever bleak, even facing the harshest of circumstances, ‘Hanks tries to humanise his characters, whether they be on-screen or on the pages of his book.’