Arguably the Meryl Streep equivalent of male actors, Tom Hanks is one of the most prolific and beloved movie stars of all time. Any list of favorite movies would be incomplete without a film featuring a transformative Tom Hanks appearance and this week he adds to that long list of memorable performances with the release of Sully, in theaters today, Sept. 9. Based on the true story of pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the emergency landing he made into New York’s Hudson River, the Clint Eastwood-directed film features Hanks in the lead role and is out in theaters everywhere today.
The appeal of Hanks stems entirely from his natural everyman demeanor, one that has carried him through countless expertly-acted roles. There’s just something about Tom Hanks! So, here we pay tribute to some of the Academy Award-winner’s best roles. Keep scrolling for a gentle reminder (not that you need one!), but in no way definitive list, of how great Hanks was in some of his most adored roles.
1. Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump
Although it's been more than two decades since Forrest Gump taught us that life is like a box of chocolates, the movie of the same title and Hanks as Gump have long stood the test of time. Have we ever rooted for a character as hard as we cheered for the long-distance running, shrimp boating, ping ponging Southern boy vying for the affections of his childhood sweetheart? Probably not. And we probably never will.
2. Chuck Noland in Cast Away
If you thought you were having a rough day, imagine being the sole survivor of a plane crash that leaves you stranded on a deserted island for four years. That's exactly the case for the always punctual FedEx delivery man Chuck Noland, played by Hanks in 2000's Cast Away. The critically acclaimed film follows Noland as he masters the art of survival with his partner in crime, Wilson, a Wilson brand volleyball.
3. Jim Lovell in Apollo 13
When an oxygen tank explodes during what was previously a smooth trip into space for the Apollo 13 crew, NASA calls off the scheduled moon landing. The nerve-wracking film then focuses on the men aboard the flight, Jim Lovell (Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), as they attempt to survive aboard a failing craft. Hanks as Lovell is poised, calm, and collected in the face of heightened tensions between the crew members and more technical difficulties, making him easy to root for.
4. Woody in Toy Story
A list of Hanks's best roles would be incomplete without the addition of everyone's favorite animated character, Woody. The principal character in the Toy Story series is brought to life by the distinct twang of Hanks's voice and has remained a favorite protagonist since the first Toy Story was released in 1995.
5. Captain John Miller in Saving Private Ryan
As Captain John Miller, Hanks leads a group of troops on a mission to save Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers have been killed in combat during World War II. Miller is ruthless in his determination to find Private Ryan despite being surrounded by the brutalities of war. The heavily awarded film features Hanks in one of his more harrowing, dramatic roles, but he takes it fully in stride and the result is captivating and heart-wrenching.
6. Captain Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips
Few people do true story depictions like Hanks and another example of that is his role as Captain Phillips in the film of the same name. When Somali pirates come aboard Phillips's ship and take the crew hostage, the captain must maintain calm and wit in order to regain control and make sure everyone returns home safely. This 2013 thriller shows Hanks in his most quintessential character type: the easy-to-root-for, controlled leading man.
7. Joe Fox in You've Got Mail
Did romantic comedies exist before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were paired up as one of the greatest couplings of all time in You've Got Mail? Hanks plays Joe Fox, a ruthless corporate owner of Fox Books who just parked a new location of his chain of stores right next to Kathleen Kelly's (Ryan) small boutique book shop. Needless to say, the two don't really hit it off, until they meet online and form a budding anonymous romantic relationship. This is Hanks in all of his lovable rom-com glory. Swoon.