Tom Hanks Says Straight Actors Playing Gay 'Inauthentic'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday June 14, 2022

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks  (Source:Richard Shotwell/Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Tom Hanks said, in a wide-ranging interview about his career, that although he won an Oscar for playing a gay man in the 1990s, today's audiences would reject such casting for "inauthenticity," Yahoo! Entertainment reported.

Yahoo! recalled that Hanks "won his first of two back-to-back Oscars for his performance in 'Philadelphia,' in which he played a gay man seeking justice after he's wrongfully terminated by his employer for having HIV."

The conversation turned to authenticity in casting when the interviewer asked Hanks about his two Oscar-winning roles, in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump." Though the interviewer wanted to discuss how social media would have "picked apart" a film like "Forrest Gump" even before its release, Hanks took the discussion in a different direction.

"There's nothing you can do about that," Hanks said of the tendency for social media to cast judgment on movies prior to being released, and sometimes before they are even made, "but let's address 'could a straight man do what I did in "Philadelphia" now?' No, and rightly so."

Hanks went on to explain, "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," Hanks went on to add, "that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity."

The 65-year-old actor and producer was promoting Baz Luhrmann's new film "Elvis," in which he plays Col. Tom Parker, Elvis' manager. Hanks noted that Parker, whom the New York Times Magazine characterized as a villain, was, like Elvis, "authentic," though as a "crass, nonartistic level."

Hanks is also executive producing a forthcoming Apple TV+ miniseries, "Masters of the Air," that will serve as the third part of what is now a trilogy of big-budget miniseries detailing the adventures of American servicemen in World War II. Hanks was a producer on "Band of Brothers" (2001) and executive produced "The Pacific" (2010), both of which aired on HBO.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.