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Tom Hanks, New King Of Cutups

August 01, 1986|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

Hanks has other adjustments to make now too. He's never spoken much about his wife, actress Samantha Lewes, and his two young children, but he acknowledged that he's currently separated. However, Hanks was quick to add that his grueling film schedule, which had taken him away on location for most of the last several years, had little to do with the breakup.

"My work didn't ruin my marriage," he said. "You can't put the blame on the film business. It's just as hard working at a bank and staying happily married as it is doing movies."

Hanks studied his half-eaten cheeseburger. "For a long time, you go through this period of swearing that you'll never make the same mistakes as your parents. But then you realize that they didn't really make mistakes. They just did what what had to be done. That's just the way it works out sometimes."

Reared in the Oakland area by his father, who was a local restaurant chef, Hanks was a sophomore at Cal State Sacramento when he saw a production of "The Iceman Cometh" and quickly decided to try his hand at acting.

After playing minor characters with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Ohio and working in theater in New York, he was cast in "Bosom Buddies." The ABC-TV comedy was canceled in 1982 after two seasons, but Hanks won rave notices.

When Hanks did a guest spot on (the Marshall-produced show) "Happy Days," he attracted the attention of actor-director Ron Howard and a pair of "Happy Days" writers, who cast Hanks in their new film, "Splash." Since then, he's played a series of starring parts in such films as "Bachelor Party, "Volunteers" and "The Money Pit."

Hanks seemed unfazed by the films' mixed critical reception. "Listen, I loved my character in 'The Man With One Red Shoe.' I thought it was great, that he was totally oblivious to all the craziness around him. Yet the movie went down the tubes.

"I think sometimes you put all this work into a film, but the actual theme--the thing that makes people out there really care about the movie--gets lost along the way."

He grinned. "I gave Garry a hard time one day when we were getting ready to shoot this movie. I said, 'But what if people don't care about the movie?' He gave me a real pep talk. But about three months later, he came up and told me, 'You know, I lost a whole night's sleep over what you said. I kept thinking that whole night--so what if they don't care?' I think we really did capture something here, but you never know."

Hanks mulled over that dilemma, then took a big bite out of his burger. "In a way, a movie is like a massive steamroller," he finally said. "Once it gets going, you just do your best and then get out of the way and see what happens."

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