Tom Hanks will play an older, gruff character in A Man Called Otto, which seems to parallel Clint Eastwood’s acting persona from recent years.
Tom Hanks’ new movie, A Man Called Otto, is moving him to a new career phase where his cinematic persona seemingly reflects that of Clint Eastwood. Veteran Tom Hanks’ movie career started way back in 1980 when he starred in the low-budget slasher film He Knows You’re Alone. With his acting endeavors spanning over four decades, Tom Hanks has played many a character in myriad movie genres. From coming-of-age comedies like Big to poignant war dramas like Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks has done it all and proven, time and again, that his vitality as an actor only grows from strength to strength with time.
However, in all of his versatile roles, one thing has almost always stayed consistent: his “nice guy” trope. Be it his portrayal of Forrest Gump‘s larger-than-life titular character or his convincing voiceover for Woody in the Toy Story franchise, Tom Hanks has always been the face for courageous and honest movie figures. Given how life imitates art as much as art imitates life, Tom Hanks’ typecast is not surprising since many actors, including Julia Roberts (via The Guardian), have acknowledged his kindness and have claimed he makes them feel at home with his warm demeanor.
What A Man Called Otto Says About Tom Hanks’ Next Career Phase
Just like serious and demanding roles in movies like Philadelphia and Forrest Gump pivoted Tom Hanks in a new direction, A Man Called Otto will likely prove to be another turning point in his acting career. By playing a grumpy and irritable older character in the book adaption, Tom Hanks seems to be drifting away from his buoyant cinematic archetype and inclining more towards starting a Clint Eastwood-esque acting phase. Before playing the ill-tempered boxing veteran coach in Million Dollar Baby and a similar hard-as-nails anti-hero in Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood, too, played a diverse set of roles before transitioning to the older sullen archetype. With A Man Called Otto, Tom Hanks seems to be treading a similar path.
How A Man Called Otto Goes Against Tom Hanks’ Typecasting
Throughout the ’80s, Tom Hanks primarily acted in comedies where he often played the typical goofy young guy. Although this won him an Oscar nomination for his performance in Big, Hanks dipped his feet into relatively more mature roles in the 90s and instantly won hearts with the depth and sincerity he brought to his characters. Since then, the actor has never looked back and in almost every film, has remained loyal to his lively Forrest Gump on-screen persona in some ways. Even when he wears his heart on his sleeve as Viktor Navorski in The Terminal or experiences the embrace of solitude as Chuck in Cast Away, a part of him seems as emotionally reserved and innocent as Forrest. Considering how, unlike Forrest, Hanks’ character will be purposefully mean and judgmental in A Man Called Otto, the movie will likely break his typecasting — or at least a part of it.
With that said, instead of taking his acting career in a completely new direction, it looks like Tom Hanks is taking a U-turn towards his unique and earnest depiction of gangster Michael Sullivan in Road to Perdition. Like Otto, Sullivan is a morally ambiguous character who struggles to hold on to his sense of humanity for the sake of his loved ones. A Man Called Otto is certainly less melancholic than Road to Perdition, but Tom Hanks’ character in the movie is still a far cry from most of his cloyingly good personas on the big screen.