Hanks made his film debut in 1980 in a slasher movie called He Knows You’re Alone, also starring Paul Gleason from Die Hard. The opening scene, featuring a murder in a cinema, was essentially remade as the opening of Scream 2 17 years later.
In 1981 he became the co-lead of a sitcom called Bosom Buddies, in which he and Peter Scolari (now best known as Hannah’s dad on Girls) have to dress as women in order to live in a cheap women-only hotel.
His first lead role in a film was 1984’s Splash, opposite Daryl Hannah as a mermaid. He got cast in it after director Ron Howard saw him in a guest appearance on Happy Days (which Howard had previously starred in).
In preparation for 1988’s Punchline, Hanks performed stand-up in clubs around Los Angeles for a month. He would later re-team with co-star Sally Field in Forrest Gump, where instead of playing friends the same age, she played his mother.
Hanks got his first Oscar nomination for Big, where he plays a 12-year-old who becomes an adult overnight. He managed to make it not creepy when the child-in-a-man's-body has sex with a genuinely grown-up co-worker, which is pretty impressive. When filming the famous dancing-on-a-giant-piano scene, Hanks and co-star Robert Loggia noticed stunt doubles on set dressed as them in case they couldn’t do the dance properly. This prompted them to increase their efforts and nail it.
Hanks later won two Best Actor Oscars in a row, for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. The only person to have done that before was Spencer Tracy, and both Tracy and Hanks were 37 when they got their first one, 38 when they got their second. In his acceptance speech for Philadelphia, Hanks said two influential figures from his past were gay – only one was publicly out at the time. This later became the basis for the film In & Out.
He’s worked with Meg Ryan four times, in Joe Versus The Volcano (where Ryan played three different roles), Sleepless In Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and the upcoming Ryan-directed Ithaca.
Hanks directed, wrote and appeared in That Thing You Do!, a love-letter to the music he’d grown up with. The title song was written by Adam Schelisinger from Fountains of Wayne and got nominated for an Oscar. Hanks also directed 2011’s Larry Crowne, which was, um, not as good.
Hanks has been married twice and has four children and two grandchildren. His children include actor Colin Hanks (of Fargo and Orange County fame) and rapper Chet Haze (of occasional tabloid mishap fame).
He’s played five real people in films – astronaut Jim Lovell, hijacked mariner Captain Richard Phillips, Walt Disney, politician Charlie Wilson and naval officer James B Donovan.
Tom Hanks really really likes space. He starred in Apollo 13, executive produced, co-wrote, and co-directed the series From The Earth To The Moon, has published stories about going to space, is a member of the National Space Society, has narrated IMAX films about the moon and once got an award from the Space Foundation for getting other people excited about space. He has an asteroid named after him and all.
Tom Hanks really really likes World War Two. He starred in Saving Private Ryan, executive produced Band Of Brothers and The Pacific and narrated the documentary The War. He was inducted as an honorary Army Ranger after Saving Private Ryan.
Tom Hanks really really likes technological innovations in animation. He lent his voice to Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film, and later The Polar Express, the first fully motion-capture film. Toy Story led to two theatrical sequels, a fourth one currently in production, two direct-to-video sequels, two TV spin-off series, two TV specials, three on-ice plays and five video games. The Polar Express is also a film.
Tom Hanks really really likes you. This year Hanks starred in the music video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s I Really Like You. When he starred in Nora Ephron’s play Lucky Guy, he’d regularly interact with the hundreds of fans waiting outside the theatre after every performance. In 2006, he topped Forbes magazine’s list of the most trusted celebrities in the world.
He also likes manual typewriters. He’s got a collection of them, brought out an app that makes your iPad sound like one, and once only agreed to do an interview
in exchange for the bribe of a hard-to-find 1934 Smith Corona portable.
Happy 59th birthday, dude. You were the bomb in The 'Burbs.