Before earning critical acclaim for his dramatic roles, Tom Hanks’ forte was comedy. Throughout the 1980s, Hanks starred in some of the most successful comedy movies including Splash, The Money Pit, A League of Their Own, and Big. Even before winning his back-to-back Oscars in 1993 and 94 for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, the Elvis actor received an Oscar nomination for his role in Big.
The film explores the story of a 13-year-old boy who has his wish granted to physically transform into an adult. Hanks faced the challenging task of portraying a 13-year-old in an adult body and his execution was nothing short of fantastic.
Tom Hanks Improvized Many Of His Scenes In Big
The only material Tom Hanks got from his director Penny Marshall regarding his portrayal of the boy character was a two-word description: innocent and shy. Many of the scenes in the 1988 film were improvised by The Da Vinci Code actor. Elizabeth Perkins, Hank’s co-star who played his love interest, recalled one particular scene involving Hanks’ character Josh attending a party in a tuxedo. Perkins shared:
“He walks through the door in a white tuxedo, and the first choice he makes is, ‘Everyone’s staring at me. Is my fly open?’ That was all Tom Hanks. Penny is one of those directors who says, ‘let’s just do it again and see what happens.’ So, there was an enormous amount of play, which really allowed Tom to find those adolescent moments that made you believe he was 13.”
The Flintstones actress also revealed another anecdote in a scene featuring a trampoline. Perkins admitted that much of the scene was improvised, with Hanks adding in some 13-year-old jokes. The Forrest Gump actor slid in a line when they were on the trampoline saying, “Let me move my big balls”, which is nearly inaudible in the movie.
Tom Hanks was compared with one of the greatest improv actors of his time, Bill Murray. And it appears that had he continued with the comedy roles, the Cast Away actor would have posed tough competition to one of the best improv actors of our generation.
Tom Hanks Would Outshine Ryan Reynolds In The Improv Game
When it comes to actors improvising scenes in new-age movies, Ryan Reynolds is at the top of the list. With his witty banter and tendency to break the fourth wall, the Green Lantern actor adds his own cheeky lines to his scripts. Recently, fans were disheartened to learn that Reynolds’ improv was banned in Deadpool 3 due to the WGA strikes.
However, considering his performance in Big, it’s almost certain that Tom Hanks would have beaten Ryan Reynolds in the improv game. The Proposal actor possesses a natural sense of humor, with his quirks coming effortlessly. However, for The Green Mile actor, his improvs are part of his profession and thus, out of the two Hanks would emerge as the better improv ‘actor’.
You can watch Tom Hanks at his improv A-game in Big, streaming on Disney+.
Source: New York Post