Tom Hanks, 65, has a unique perspective about his Oscar-winning performance in 1993’s Philadelphia. In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, the acclaimed actor admitted that he couldn’t play the role of Andy Beckett, an openly gay lawyer battling AIDS, today. “And rightly so,” Tom told the publication. “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.”
Tom continued, “It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.” Tom won his very first Oscar for Philadelphia at the 66th Academy Awards. The film, which also starred Denzel Washington, Mary Steenburgen, Antonio Banderas, and Jason Robards, was one of the first major Hollywood films to touch on homophobia and AIDS.
Tom was also asked about 1994’s Forrest Gump which earned him his second Oscar for Best Actor. He described Forrest Gump and Philadelphia as “timely movies,” adding, “at the time, that you might not be able to make now.” He also defended Forrest Gump and said it deserved the Best Picture Oscar over popular movies like Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction.
“The problem with ‘Forrest Gump’ is it made a billion dollars,” Tom said. “If we’d just made a successful movie, Bob [Zemeckis] and I would have been geniuses. But because we made a wildly successful movie, we were diabolical geniuses. Is it a bad problem to have? No, but there’s books of the greatest movies of all time, and ‘Forrest Gump’ doesn’t appear because, oh, it’s this sappy nostalgia fest.”
Tom has not won an Oscar since Forrest Gump. His next major film role is in Baz Luhrmann‘s Elvis, where he plays Colonel Tom Parker, the former carnival worker-turned music manager, and promoter who helped discover Elvis Presley. Austin Butler plays the “King of Rock And Roll.”