We salute the career of one of our favourite actors…
10. Robert Langdon
The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels and Demons (2009), Inferno (2016)
Hanks bought Dan Brown’s Professor Langdon to life in these two blockbusters. Combining impressive intelligence with a likeable charm, Hanks successfully personified a fan favourite.
Best line: ‘I’ve got to get to the library… fast!’
The Polar Express (2004)
Hanks sealed the power of his vocal acting in this 2004 animated adventure. Voicing Hero Boy, the father, Scrooge, the conductor, the hobo as well as Santa, Hanks embodies the film.
Best line: ‘All aboard!’
8. Viktor Navorski
The Terminal (2004)
Hanks found himself confined to JFK airport in Spielberg’s The Terminal. Playing eastern European Viktor, Hanks must learn to cope with the American lifestyle (albeit that which is contained in the airport) as well as dealing with his feelings for Catherine Zeta Jones’s air stewardess Amelia in this likeable comedy.
Best line: ‘He chit’
7. Captain John H. Miller
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Hanks’s appearance in Spielberg’s powerful war epic Saving Private Ryan is one of his most remembered serious roles. With a team of soldiers tasked with the unenviable mission of going behind enemy lines to save a paratrooper, the film is both impacting and evocative.
Best line: ‘It’s like finding a needle in a stack of needles’
6. Sam Baldwin
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Perfecting his rom-com capabilities (as well as sparking a chemistry with Meg Ryan that would be reignited in You’ve Got Mail), Hanks’s role in nineties classic Sleepless in Seattle warmed the heart of many a viewer. Playing widower Sam, we watch as he slowly learns to love again with the help of his son Jonah and a radio therapist.
Best line: ‘Her first name could be doctor!’
5. Paul Edgecomb
The Green Mile (1999)
Hanks plays prison guard Paul Edgecomb in this Stephen King adaptation. Charting life on a prison’s death row, the green mile, the film focuses on inmate John Coffey and his relationship with Edgecomb and his fellow guards. Accused of raping and killing a young child, they soon discover that Coffey may not only be innocent but he also holds miraculous secrets.
Best line: ‘On the day of my judgement, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?’
4. Josh Baskin
Back when Hanks was a fresh-faced (and relative) newcomer to the movie scene he made light-hearted comedies that won him countless fans. We point here to the likes of The ‘Burbs, Turner and Hooch, Splash and, of course, Big. Waking up to find himself in an adult body, 13 year-old Josh leaves home and finds himself facing rent, careers and the advances of amorous admirers. Bringing us that fantastic giant keyboard scene as well as Hanks’s attempts to battle with baby sweetcorn, Big is an eighties gem.
Best line: ‘A HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SEVEN DOLLARS!’
3. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump (1994)
Perhaps one of his most famous roles, Hanks’s Forrest Gump won the hearts of thousands of viewers. Gump, a mentally impaired but kind-hearted man, has somehow managed to be present at some of the most pivotal moments in history. The film charts his life and Hanks manages to provide the film with one of cinema’s most likeable characters ever.
Best line: ‘Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get’
Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010)
Arguably the best cinematic cowboy in the last twenty years, Woody gives a whole new spin to the wild west’s iconic heroes. Savvy as well as a natural leader, cowboy Woody’s leadership is threatened when spaceman Buzz (Tim Allen) appears (we’re hoping to see a similar premise in this year’s Cowboys and Aliens). Determined to convince the newcomer that he too is a toy, Woody finds himself faced with perilous missions to secure the safety of the entire community in Andy’s room. Hanks’s mannerisms are captured masterfully by Disney Pixar’s team, catapulting Woody into the number two spot.
Best line: ‘You. Are. A. Toyyyy!’
1. Chuck Noland
Cast Away (2000)
Hanks’s loyalty to his craft was tested by Robert Zemeckis’s 2000 Cast Away. Having to gain, and subsequently drastically lose, weight to play the stranded FedEx worker Chuck Noland, this is Hanks at his best. Alone for most of the film, Cast Away relies on Hanks’s ability to captivate his audience. And boy does he captivate. We watch as days turn into years and he gets to grips with the island’s dangers. Having to conquer debilitating toothache, as well as the pain of missing his girlfriend, Chuck toys with the idea of suicide as well as befriending a volley ball (the latter making for one of the most surprisingly effective cinematic relationships in the history of film). Hanks is sublime throughout and makes the film a delight to watch again and again.
Best line: ‘Wilsooon!’