Tom Hanks may be a beloved screen icon, but that doesn’t mean he’s only in hits.
The Oscar winner revealed during a panel discussion at The New Yorker Live with editor-in-chief David Remnick that even he “hates” some of his own films.
“OK, let’s admit this: We all have seen movies that we hate. I have been in some movies that I hate,” Hanks said. “You have seen some of my movies and you hate them.”
The “Sleepless in Seattle” star explained, “Here are the five points of the Rubicon that are crossed by anybody who makes movies: The first Rubicon you cross is saying yes to the film. Your fate is sealed. You are going to be in that movie. The second Rubicon is when you actually see the movie that you made. It either works and is the movie you wanted to make, or it does not work and it’s not the movie you wanted to make.”
He continued, “That has nothing to do with Rubicon No. 3, the critical reaction to it — which is a version of the vox populi. Someone is going to say, ‘I hated it.’ Other people can say, ‘I think it’s brilliant.’ Somewhere in between the two is what the movie actually is. The fourth Rubicon is the commercial performance of the film. Because, if it does not make money, your career will be toast sooner than you want it to be. That’s just the fact. That’s the business. The fifth Rubicon is time.”
Hanks reflected on his directorial debut “That Thing You Do!,” which he also wrote and starred in. While the film underperformed at the box office, it later became a cult classic.
“Where that movie lands twenty years after the fact. What happens when people look at it, perhaps by accident. And a great example of this is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ which was made [in 1946] and disappeared for the better part of, I’m going to say, twenty years, locked up in a rights issue. It wasn’t even viewed at the time as being a commercial hit. Enough people liked it, so it was nominated for Best Picture,” Hanks said. “For me, it happened on a movie that I wrote and directed called ‘That Thing You Do!’ I loved making that movie. I loved writing it, I loved being with it. I love all the people in it. When it came out, it was completely dismissed by the first wave of vox populi. It didn’t do great business.”
The “Asteroid City” actor added, “It hung around for a while, was viewed as being some sort of odd, kinda quasi-ripoff of nine other different movies and a nice little stroll down memory lane. Now the same exact publications that dismissed it in their initial review called it ‘Tom Hanks’s cult classic, “That Thing You Do!”‘ So now it’s a cult classic. What was the difference between those two things? The answer is time.”
However, Hanks admitted that there is “no way to tell” if a film is going to be good or not in the production process since filmmaking is “so slow and so specific.”
“You have to trust the entire process to collaborators who you hope are working at the absolute top of their game farther down the line,” Hanks summed up. “You can only have faith and hope — and what’s bigger than faith and hope?”