Oprah Talks to Tom Hanks
Oprah: Why did you take the role?
Tom: Because I was asked to—and back then, that was still a big deal. I thought I could bullshit my way through.
Oprah: How do you define success for yourself now?
Tom: By whether I still have a passion for my work. Vincent Dowling of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival once said that work in the theater is more fun than fun.
Oprah: Did you pursue theater simply because it was fun?
Tom: That's it.
Oprah: Did you know you had the ability to transcend yourself in the way that you have?
Tom: No—but several things always separated me from a herd of other actors. Whenever I auditioned for a part, I'd think, "I'm probably better than 50 percent of the actors here, because half of these people are self-conscious in ways I'm not." I would do anything—I didn't care. But many would not make fun of themselves the way I'm willing to.
Oprah: And you knew that?
Tom: Right away. And I thought I was just as good as another 48 percent of the actors. Before you go into what is essentially a competition, you have to have that confidence. You have to ask yourself, "Are they looking for a guy my height? My age? I've got a shot." And if there are nine guys auditioning and they're all gorgeous, I have an advantage, because gorgeous guys are a dime a dozen. But if they need someone else—like a goofy guy with bad hair who is just okay—then that's me. And finally, the other 2 percent who audition are geniuses that I could never touch.
Oprah: Why do you think that not being a "gorgeous guy" is an advantage?
Tom: Because the majority of people in the world are not gorgeous. I've always known that, gee, I'm going to have to be charming to make this happen because my looks don't do it.
Oprah: I've read that after your parents divorced and you stayed with your father, you attended ten different schools by the time you were 10. How did all that moving affect you?
Tom: I was never intimidated by change. I was like an army brat who had lived all around the world.
Oprah: You never felt like the lonely, left- out kid?
Tom: I always had plenty of friends and lots of stuff to do, because I aggressively made those things happen. I didn't want to be lonely.