Tom Hanks is one of the most successful actors in film history and arguably the most likable dude in Hollywood, but what exactly does Tom Hanks think of his career? The 65-year-old has amassed the kind of entertainment resume that his counterparts can only dream of. From breaking the space barrier to somehow making us feel sad for inanimate volleyball, the man’s acting chops are undeniable.
As one of the only actors to ever win back-to-back Oscars, the lanky American has an innate ability to master the craft, across comedy, drama, sci-fi, and (sort of) horror. However, in a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Hanks revealed the cream of his career crop, outlining the best Tom Hanks films from his perspective. The results are…surprising.
Speaking on the podcast, Simmons quizzed Hanks after revealing the question had been sitting with him for over a decade. “When I was writing for ESPN, I got a mail back question like 10 years ago from a reader who said ‘If you ask 1,000 people to list top three favorite Tom Hanks movies, and you took (Forrest) Gump off the table, all the responses would be different,” Simmons said. “I actually did a test with 30 people I know and 26 of them had different lists.
Hanks explained that his criteria for his ‘favorite’ films aren’t exactly uniform. Rather than focusing on the finest-crafted on most technically perfect of the films in his portfolio, the acting legend instead argued that his rankings were based on the way he felt during the filming process. That may be justification for why some (mainly just one) critically panned film made his top three, considering the list of influential work under his belt.
“I would not do it according to how the movies came out, I would do it by way of the personal experience that I had when I was doing it, which is very different,” Hanks said. With that in mind, the film legend shared the innermost secrets of filming his big three, kicking off with a ’90s classic.
3 Best Tom Hanks Movies, According to Tom Hanks
1. A League of Their Own (1992)
It’s no surprise that A League of Their Own is one of the best-loved films of all time. The witty comedy that sees two sisters join the first female professional baseball league, all while struggling with a growing rivalry. Hanks’ Jimmy Duggan is the perfect counterpoint for the female-led cast, playing the buffoon with a heart of gold who knows more than he leads on. The whole film just looked a blast to make, a suspicion Hanks was happy to confirm.
‘Number one would be League of Their Own because all I did all summer was play baseball. I shagged flies, I ate turkey dogs, I took in-field with Robin Knight and tonne of other people. I just played baseball all summer long in Evansville, Indiana, and in Wrigley Field,” he said. “I had all my kids with me and all my family with me, it was a big ass summer in the mid-west. We lived in a house in the middle of cornfields, we went to Burger King at night and Dairy Queen in the afternoon, it was a great summer and my entire family still talks about it.”
2. Cast Away (2000)
For a man with a resume that reads like an Oscar nominations list, Hanks is probably best-remembered for his disheveled, bearded aesthetic in Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 film Cast Away. Filmed in Fiji, the stranded survivor story was a stunning ode to the strength of man, and one of Hank’s favorite films.
“I would say Cast Away because we just had bold adventures when we were making that movie. I mean, we were out in the middle of the ocean just trying to grab shots,” he told Simmons. “We were off in Fiji on two different occasions and again, I had the whole family with me. There was nothing but adventures every single day, every single night.”
The 65-year-old actor went on to explain that the routine he played up to during filming was one of the best parts of the process. According to Hanks, he would wake up before the sun was up, swim out to a fishing charter, and fly to the island where filming would take place.
“We would head out and for 50 minutes, the sun would be rising behind us on the open sea and we would be heading towards the island of Monuriki, which is where we shot,” he said. There was no power on the island so we sho during daylight hours and about an hour before sunset, we would pack up and I would swim back to my marlin boat. This time the sun is setting behind me and this sun towards the east is just getting darker and darker. We would land and I would swim back to shore, and that’s how it was for about three months.
3. Cloud Atlas (2012)
The final installment in the actor’s list of the best Tom Hank’s movies is a strange one. Despite receiving lukewarm reviews from critics, the 2000 sci-fo anthology adventure Cloud Atlas ranked highly on his list. Made in conjunction with filmmaking legends, the hype was real for this film, but while it failed to live up to the lofty expectations, Hanks still loved the experience.
“The last film I would say that was magical for me was a movie called Cloud Atlas that I made with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. We shot it on a hope and a dream and nothing but a circle of love in Berlin, Majorca, Dresden, and Dusseldorf,” he said. “That was the first time I had ever shot extensively in Germany and I was surrounded by history. We were part of this big, massive ensemble of fantastic people who were just trying to do the best, hardest work on this deep throw. Making it was just magical.”
When it comes to picking your best work, it’s a bit of a catch 22. In a sense, it’s like trying to choose between your favorite children, but Hanks’ reveal is an interesting one. Despite having one of the extensive and well-loved film portfolios in history, the 65-year-old actor is still churning our surprises. Turns out Simmons’ reader was right. Even Tom Hanks’ list of the best Tom Hanks movies is different from ours.