The 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
  • Cecil B. DeMille

Ready for My deMille: Profiles in Excellence – Tom Hanks, 2020

Beginning in 1952 when the Cecil B. deMille Award was presented to its namesake visionary director, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has awarded its most prestigious prize 66 times. From Walt Disney to Bette DavisElizabeth Taylor to Steven Spielberg and 62 others, the deMille has gone to luminaries – actors, directors, producers – who have left an indelible mark on Hollywood. Sometimes mistaken with a career achievement award, per HFPA statute, the deMille is more precisely bestowed for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”. In this series, HFPA cognoscente and former president Philip Berk profiles deMille laureates through the years.
By his own definition, Tom Hanks is the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Not only has he won the acclaim of his peers, but he is also admired as a human being and a model citizen and is our most recent Cecil B. deMille recipient.
His costar Julia Roberts once described him as giving “100 percent in every department all day long. He’s happy. He’s buoyant. He’s present. It’s mind-boggling that he can shape-shift from acting to directing. It’s pretty impressive.” Audiences have never given much thought to Tom’s looks. Whether appearing diseased and dying in Philadelphia or lithe, lean, and handsome in You’ve Got Mail, he’s their everyman and the consummate screen actor.
His philosophy expressed in an HFPA press conference: “Smarter men than me have said. ‘Don’t look back because the past might be catching up on you.’ I do not live in the past. I don’t have any sense to go back and relive past achievements. You can look at all your so-called accomplishments, but they don’t mean a hill of beans if you’re not moving forward. As you get older you realize that the only thing that happened was that time went by, and you realize then the only reason you survived one crisis and moved onto your next chapter was because you yourself did something about it.” Which is precisely what he has always done.
After a three year apprenticeship at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, where he learned his craft, winning a Critics award for playing Proteus in Two Gentlemen of Verona, he moved to New York where his performance in a Riverside Shakespeare Company production was noticed by a talent scout and he was given a lead role in TV’s Bosom Buddies. Emerging director Ron Howard saw something special in him and cast him in Splash, which became a huge hit and established him as a leading actor. He had another hit with Bachelor Party and then attempted his first dramatic role in Nothing in Common, in which he did equally well.
Following that there was a run of minor films, but it was Penny Marshall’s Big, for which he won his first Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, that turned things around, and suddenly he was Hollywood’s top star with the pick of parts, which he chose wisely.
The Bonfire of the Vanities was a setback, but A League of Their Own, again with Penny Marshall was a surprise hit, and Sleepless in Seattle a blockbuster, which encouraged him to return to drama. And playing an HIV victim in Philadelphia he won his second Golden Globe and his first Oscar. The following year he played Forrest Gump, a character that resonated with audiences to the tune of $600 million dollars and enabled him to become the first actor since Spencer Tracy to win back-to-back Academy Awards. He won a third Golden Globe for this. He was reunited with Ron Howard on Apollo 13 and then voiced the character of Woody in the Pixar animated classic Toy Story which spawned three highly acclaimed sequels and went on to win two Golden Globes as Best Animated Film.
His foray into directing that year resulted in That Thing You Do!which he also wrote. Although dismissed at the time it has gained popularity and is now considered a cult classic. Saving Private Ryan began a symbiotic collaboration with Steven Spielberg. A Golden Globe and Oscar winner, it set a new standard for depicting combat in a war film. And it was the year’s top moneymaker. The Green Mile was an unexpected blockbuster, and You’ve Got Mail, Toy Story 2, and Cast Away, for which he won his fourth Golden Globe, this time for Drama, made him the top moneymaking star of the decade.
His next two movies with Spielberg were less successful, but then he made a comeback starring in The Da Vinci Code, which like the novel it was based on was a huge international success. Two subsequent films with Spielberg, playing the lawyer tasked with bringing home an American operative in Bridge of Spiesand the legendary newspaper editor Ben Bradley in The Postfor which he was nominated for yet another Golden Globe, were both well received, and he was nominated again last year, his tenth, as Best Supporting Actor for playing Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Beyond his acting career he has fared equally well as an executive producer. His TV documentaries, TV series, and TV movies have earned innumerable Golden Globes and Emmys, among them From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams, Big Loveand Olive Kittridge.
Over the years he and his wife Rita Wilson have supported countless charities for which in 2016 he was presented with America’s highest civilian honor – the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for his charitable and humanitarian endeavors.
Tom Hanks, a true renaissance man. His classic performances? Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Cast Away…