An American cultural icon! From rom-coms to dramas, Tom Hanks has become one of the most popular film stars in the world.
The Terminal star was born in Concord, California, in July 1956 and developed his interest in acting by performing in high school plays. Hanks went on to study theater at California State University, Sacramento, however, he dropped out of college when he received an internship for the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio.
“1,000 years ago in 1977, when I was an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, my first professional job, we all got yelled at,” the award-winning actor said in a Golden Globes speech in January 2020. “[My boss] says, ‘You guys … you know what your job is? You have got to show up on time, you’ve got to know the text, and you have to have a head full of ideas, otherwise I can’t do my job!’ That was the greatest lesson a young actor could possibly ever get.”
After moving to New York and landing his first film role in 1980’s He Knows You’re Alone, Hanks landed one of the lead roles in the ABC show Bosom Buddies, which jump started his career. Following his TV debut, the Splash actor appeared in several comedy films including 1988’s Big, establishing the actor as a major Hollywood star and earning him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
In the 1990s, Hanks went on to win his first Academy Award for 1993’s Philadelphia and then earned his second Oscar for 1994’s Forrest Gump, becoming only the second actor to accomplish winning consecutive Best Actor Oscars.
“The problem with Forrest Gump is it made a billion dollars. If we’d just made a successful movie, Bob [Zemeckis] and I would have been geniuses,” Hanks told The New York Times in June 2022. “But because we made a widely successful movie, we were diabolical geniuses. Is it a bad problem to have? No, but there’s books of the greatest movies of all time, and Forrest Gump doesn’t appear because, oh, it’s this sappy nostalgia-fest.”
After his multiple Oscar wins, the Toy Story star continued starring in hit films such as 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle, 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 2000’s Cast Away and 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks. In 2022, Hanks starred as the manager of Elvis Presley in the Oscar nominated film Elvis alongside Austin Butler.
“Playing Elvis is like playing Jesus, and it doesn’t really matter who plays Pontius Pilate because if you have a good Jesus, you got it,” Hanks told Entertainment Weekly in June 2022. “But the challenge for me, as well as the freedom, was having this engineered look every day. Because what you get from that is a suit of armor.”
Sign up for Us Weekly’s free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
Keep scrolling for a look back at Hanks’ life and career over the years: