July 9 ~  Willing To Play Right Words at the Right Time

"But the most important thing I learned in terms of acting in films, and what I'll always now do for the director is, I will always come in armed with something that I'd like to try. I will always come in willing to play, just so I'm not just there saying the words and trying to figure them out." ~ Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks Popular movie star Thomas J. Hanks (1956-) is always willing to play... and play well.

Born on this day in Concord, California, he began acting in high school, then majored in drama in college. With national notoriety in the TV series Bosom Buddies (1980-82), he soared to stardom in the hit film Splash (1984).

"The only way you can truly control how you're seen is by being honest all the time," he explained.

With back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for AIDS-stricken attorney Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (1993) and the title role in Forrest Gump (1994), the likeable star's performance as Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan (1998) was unforgettable.

"If you have to have a job in this world," Hanks said, "you know, being a high-priced movie star is a pretty damn good gig."

To celebrate the memory of the WWII generation, Hanks (along with director Steven Spielberg) has lobbied hard for, and raised money to build, a World War II memorial on Washington's National Mall between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

"You have to adhere to a philosophy that the life unexamined is not worth living, because otherwise you're just living from day to day and you don't have any real sense of yourself or where you are," he said.

"It's rare that you find such a talented person who doesn't have an attitude," observed A League of Their Own (1992) director Penny Marshall.

Happily married to actress Rita Wilson, his poignant Oscar acceptance speech for Forrest Gump paid tribute to their love, "I'm standing here because the woman I share my life with has taught me and demonstrates to me every day just what love is."

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