It’s one of his most famous roles but Tom Hanks said he wouldn’t say yes to playing the character in 2022.
Tom Hanks may have won his first Oscar for his role in Jonathan Demme’s 1993 drama Philadelphia, but he wouldn’t take on the role today.
In an expansive – and at times philosophical – interview with The New York Times, Hanks addressed whether he could still make the two 1990s movies that won him back-to-back Oscars, Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.
Philadelphia starred Hanks as a gay lawyer who brings a wrongful dismissal case against his old firm, arguing he had been sacked for his sexuality and his AIDs diagnosis.
“Let’s address ‘could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?’. No, and rightly so,” Hanks told NYT. “The whole point of Philadelphia was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man.
“We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.
“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”
Hanks won the Oscar for his Philadelphia role over Daniel Day-Lewis, Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins and Liam Neeson.
While Hanks wasn’t expressing regret for taking the role at the time – unlike Eddie Redmayne who said it was mistake for him to play the transgender lead character in 2015 film The Danish Girl – Hanks offered the comments in a wide-ranging discussion about his body of work and their influence in American culture.
Known for his love of history, Hanks delved into the idea that many of his movies, including Forrest Gump, engaged with nostalgia for a so-called “easier past”. He rejected the propensity to equate the past with “better times”.
“’Oh, the 1950s were this carefree time’. Excuse me, no, they were not. ‘How come things aren’t the way they were?’ You mean when you were comfortable. Institutions were gaming the system in order to maintain the status quo!
“That has always been the case except for when some redefinition of our institutions comes along out of a public outcry because the status quo isn’t fair.
“I have a fascination with the progress America has made in all these incremental moments. That is an American sense of what is right and what is wrong.”
Originally published as Tom Hanks said he wouldn’t tale on his Oscar-winning role in Philadelphia today