From 'Forrest Gump' to 'Big' and everything inbetween
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There's a reason this movie changed everything for Tom Hanks. Both Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford famously turned the role down, but when Hanks got hold of it, he was desperate to escape from the sort of silly comedy ghetto that Hollywood had planned for him. He found the terrifying human heart that made this fantasy work. When he becomes a thirteen-year-old in a man's body, he wears it wide open, so we can always see what's going on inside him. His joy, his fear, what it feels like the first time you're with a woman, the freedom of adulthood, the crushing weight of responsibility... Hanks plays all of that, and he's uproariously funny as well. It's interesting that both De Niro and Ford went on to find roles where they could essentially play the same sort of character in "Awakenings" and "Regarding Henry," and it would suggest that when they saw what Hanks did, they were haunted by the missed opportunity. And in the end, Hanks in 'Big' is still the best of the three.
- Drew McWeeny