Defining Moments: Tom Hanks

One of Hollywood’s most respected and versatile actors, Tom Hanks, has earned himself numerous nominations and accolades.

Whether he’s stranded on an uninhabited island, fighting in a world war, or captaining a plane, Hanks’ roles have propelled him to stardom, and rightly so.

Penning Hanks’ defining moments has been a challenge considering he’s portrayed some wonderful characters in his time. So, here it goes…


Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump (1994)

Certainly one of Hanks’ finest performances and one that audiences far and wide are most familiar with.

Hanks embodied the slow-witted yet kind hearted character of Forrest Gump – soldier, ping pong champion, activist and shrimp entrepreneur. From his first day at school, to fighting in the Vietnam War, shaking hands with John F. Kennedy and becoming a millionaire, Hanks’ portrayal of Forrest Gump is legendary.

In my humble opinion, this is one of Hanks’ most prominent roles. Portraying such a complex and multi-dimensional character can’t have been an easy job, but when it’s done by Tom Hanks, you can count on it being nothing short of sensational.

Forrest Gump won six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Hanks and Best Picture.


Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile (1999) 

Paul Edgecomb  was once a prison officer, tasked with handling some of the most dangerous men in America. During this time, most of his days were not only spent with convicts, but corpses. Edgecomb’s beat was death row, where the dangerous and the dastardly would come to a grisly end.

Certainly one of Hanks’ more abstract performances, given the supernatural element of the film, but nevertheless, full to the brim of compassion, warmth and sheer brilliance. The Green Mile showcases Hanks’ ability to portray a character we can all relate to, and one that certainly pulls at our heartstrings.


Chuck Noland in Castaway (2000)

It would appear that if you want a cracking film, the ingredients include one Tom Hanks, with a sprinkling of Robert Zemeckis, mix together thoroughly, and yet again, you’ll have an Academy Award nominated film. Castaway became another jewel in Tom’s acting crown, after becoming a hit at the US box office, grossing a healthy $429 million.

After departing one fateful Christmas to solve an IT issue in Malaysia, Chuck Noland is struck by tragedy. Whilst flying through a violent storm, the plane he is travelling abroad descends into the Pacific Ocean. After being washed up on an uninhabited island, Chuck is about to face the next four years very much alone.

Hanks’ portrayal of Noland is like no other in his entire career. Full of physicality, emotion and vengeance, Hanks’ performance as an unfortunate IT engineer left me stunned. A defining moment in his career? Absolutely. After all, its not everyday you end up on an island for four years…


Higginson Dorr in The Ladykillers (2004)

If you’ve had a peek at any other of my articles lurking around in the film section, you’ll see that my dad has introduced me to a lot of films, with The Ladykillers being no exception.

A remake of the classic film of the same name, Hanks’ and his team of helpless cronies are attempting to rob a casino, split the money and flee – but there’s just one problem, “Professor” Higginson Dorr (Hanks) can only conduct the operation from his rented room in the home of a strict religious widow, making for disastrous and hilarious results.

Admittedly, this is probably one of Hanks’ lesser known performances, given that it doesn’t come close to some of his works. However, I believe it should still get a mention, bearing in mind I cried with laughter at least six times throughout the film. A charming, humorous and unique performance from Mr Hanks earns The Ladykillers a place in my defining moments list.


Walt Disney in Saving Mr Banks (2013) 

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks? Absolute heaven, I tell you.

One of Mr Hanks’ more recent portrayals came in 2013, with this heart-warming and feel-good comedy drama. Based on the true story of P.L Travers’ and Walt Disney’s encounters, another stellar performance was delivered.

Tom Hanks has made a lot of fantastic films, but to me, this was possibly one of his best performances. Imagine being tasked to deliver a performance based around a real person, but not just any real person – Walt Disney. That would be one hell of a job. But, as always, I was amazed. From the accent, the moustache and his persona, Hanks’ got this one just right.


There we have it, my five defining moments of the one and certainly the only, Tom Hanks. Stylish, charming and utterly unique, this fella’s performances never fail to make me laugh, cry or fill me with a sense of true enjoyment and admiration.

Honourable Mentions: Big (1988), Philadelphia (1993), Toy Story (1995-), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Da Vinci Code (2006) & Captain Phillips (2013)

Words by Paige Bradshaw

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  • great m8

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