Tom Hanks Pushed Steven Spielberg For An Important Change To Saving Private Ryan

If you live in English-speaking Western culture, there’s a very good chance you have an image of actor Tom Hanks in your head. Not just his Academy Award-winning face, but his rep as the nicest of nice guys. Well, even directors are subject to this, and Hanks has had to push back on it over the years, he said in a new interview with the New York Times.

This interview is a wide-ranging retrospective on Hanks’ career, and includes not just Hanks’ experience as an actor, but a look back at his influence on the films and the films’ influence on the world. The interviewer asks Hanks about a scene in Charlie Wilson’s War, where Hanks allegedly wanted to avoid the titular character using cocaine to keep him from appearing unsympathetic. To give the question context, Hanks pointed to other disagreements he had on set.

“On Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg said ‘I don’t think I want to see John Miller fire his gun and kill Germans.’ I told him, ‘I’m sorry, Steven, you’re not going to get me all the way over here and turn me into some other guy just because you don’t want to see Tom Hanks kill soldiers,” Hanks said. He recounted a similar disagreement with director Robert Zemeckis on Forrest Gump; the movie specifically highlighted how well Gump took to basic training, but when it came to the Vietnam War scenes, Zemeckis wanted to show Gump running away.

“I said, ‘Bob, why am I playing a soldier who is really good at his basic training without then showing me slapping in my clip and firing a set of rounds?'” Hanks said of the disagreement.

With regard to Charlie Wilson’s War, Hanks explained that he would’ve done it–it wasn’t a character-defining scene for him.

“Those kinds of choices are in every single movie,” Hanks said.

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