What can you say about Tom Hanks? Possibly the most beloved actor in the world, Tom is our generation's everyman- “The modern day James Stewart.” We all know and love him and none of us will ever forget his amazing performances in Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Big, A League of Their Own, Toy Story, Catch Me If You Can, Splash!, Nothing in Common and so many other Tom Hanks "classic" movies.
Tom won back-to-back Academy Awards as Best Actor for his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. He thus joined Spencer Tracy as the only actor in history to win two consecutive Best Actor Oscars.
I had the great pleasure and honor of working with Tom in The Polar Express (2004) and it was truly a wonderful, unforgettable experience. Alright, let's take a look at 18 facts you may not know about Tom Hanks...
* Tom's movies have earned $4.2 billion dollars in the U.S. and Canada. His worldwide movie box office gross is an unbelievable $8.4 billion. His movies average $107 million each. This makes Tom the all-time movie champion of the movie box office.
* He used to be a bellhop. He enjoyed the job and actually carried the bags of both Sidney Poitier and Cher.
* Tom's film debut was in a 1980 low-budget horror/slasher flick called He Knows You're Alone. He earned $800. In the original script, Tom's character, Elliott, was supposed to be murdered by the killer. But after viewing Tom's performance, the producers saw how charismatic he was and Elliott's murder was written out of the script.
* Does he ever watch any of his films? “Oh dear lord- no!" he says. “I don't watch my own performances. I’ve seen all my movies. I don't need to see them again. They won't change.”
* The only exception to Tom's “I never watch my own films" rule is the film he directed in 1996- That Thing You Do! “It still brings a smile to my face,” he recalls.
* He has cited the help of a nearby ice cream shop which helped him gain 30 pounds for his role in A League of Their Own.
* Tom once visited Graceland. When asked what it was like, he replied, “It was sad.”
* Tom wasn't always the cool, confident Tom Hanks we are all so familiar with. Tom told Rolling Stone magazine, that when he was growing up “I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy.”
* He is an avid collector of antique typewriters. He owns over 80 he has purchased from all over the world.
* Tom is a huge fan of the Oakland Raiders in football and the Cleveland Indians in baseball. He purchased a stone in front of Jacobs Field when it was built.
* He used to sell popcorn and peanuts as a vendor at Oakland Coliseum.
* He was a member of Monty Python- for one night, at the 2002 memorial concert for George Harrison.
* Tom's acting heroes have always been Jason Robards and Robert Duvall.
* He received the Distinguished Public Service Award , the U.S. Navy's highest civilian award, on Veteran's Day in 1999 for his performance in Saving Private Ryan.
* He is a convert to the Greek Orthodox Church. Tom is a regular church-goer and says, “I must say that when I go to church -and I do go to church- I ponder the mystery. Why people are the way they are. Why do bad things happen to good people. Why do good things happen to bad people.”
* Tom’s all-time favorite movie is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). His second favorite is the Beatles' 1964 film A Hard Day's Night.