Tom Hanks is an actor known for his versatile acting abilities, and he has been a prominent figure in Hollywood for decades. He has played a wide range of characters in various genres, but one area where he particularly stands out is his roles in historical movies. Over the years, he has portrayed several real-life figures, including astronauts, soldiers, politicians, and artists, among others. In this article, we will explore some of Tom Hanks’ best performances in historical movies, focusing on how he brought these characters to life on the big screen.
The Apollo 13 – Jim Lovell:
One of Tom Hanks’ most iconic roles in a historical movie is as astronaut Jim Lovell in the 1995 film, Apollo 13. The movie is based on the real-life events of the Apollo 13 mission, where Lovell and his fellow astronauts encountered several technical difficulties while attempting to land on the moon. Hanks’ performance as Lovell was praised for its authenticity and emotional depth, as he portrayed the astronaut’s determination and bravery in the face of adversity.
Saving Private Ryan – Captain John H. Miller:
In the 1998 war movie, Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks plays Captain John H. Miller, a fictional character who leads a group of soldiers on a mission to find and rescue Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Hanks’ portrayal of Miller is intense and gripping, as he captures the character’s sense of duty and compassion towards his fellow soldiers. His performance in the film earned him critical acclaim, and the movie went on to become a box-office success.
Bridge of Spies – James B. Donovan:
Tom Hanks’ performance as James B. Donovan in the 2015 movie, Bridge of Spies, was another standout role in his career. The film is based on the real-life events of the Cold War, where Donovan, an American lawyer, is tasked with negotiating the release of a captured U.S. pilot in exchange for a Soviet spy. Hanks’ portrayal of Donovan was praised for its subtlety and nuance, as he brought a sense of humanity to the character’s diplomatic efforts in a tense political climate.
Philadelphia – Andrew Beckett:
Tom Hanks won his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 movie, Philadelphia. The film tells the story of a gay lawyer who is fired from his law firm after contracting AIDS, and Hanks’ portrayal of Beckett was praised for its raw emotion and vulnerability. His performance in the film helped raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic and earned him critical acclaim for his ability to humanize the disease and the people affected by it.
Captain Phillips – Richard Phillips:
In the 2013 movie, Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks plays Richard Phillips, the captain of a cargo ship who is taken hostage by Somali pirates. Hanks’ performance in the film was praised for its intensity and realism, as he captured the character’s sense of desperation and determination to survive. His portrayal of Phillips earned him critical acclaim and a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
The Post – Ben Bradlee:
In the 2017 movie, The Post, Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Washington Post during the Vietnam War. The film tells the story of the newspaper’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a classified study about the U.S. government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Hanks’ performance as Bradlee was praised for its wit and charm, as he brought a sense of humanity to the character’s journalistic efforts to hold the government accountable for its actions.
Tom Hanks’ most notable roles in historical movies and explore how he has portrayed real-life figures:
- Forrest Gump (1994) Forrest Gump is one of Tom Hanks’ most iconic roles, and it is also a historical movie set against the backdrop of major events in American history, such as the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, and the civil rights movement. Hanks plays Forrest, a simple man with a low IQ, who unwittingly finds himself at the center of some of the most significant events of the 20th century. Hanks’ performance as Forrest is heartfelt and endearing, capturing the character’s innocence and optimism, and making him one of the most beloved characters in movie history.
- Saving Private Ryan (1998) Saving Private Ryan is a war movie set during World War II, and Hanks plays Captain John H. Miller, a United States Army Ranger tasked with finding and rescuing Private James Francis Ryan (played by Matt Damon) after his brothers are killed in action. Hanks’ performance as Captain Miller is understated and nuanced, portraying a man who is both brave and vulnerable in the face of war. His character’s sense of duty and compassion for his fellow soldiers make him a compelling and relatable figure, and the movie itself is considered one of the greatest war movies ever made.
- Apollo 13 (1995) Apollo 13 is a movie based on the real-life events of the Apollo 13 mission, which was launched in 1970 with the goal of landing astronauts on the moon. Hanks plays astronaut Jim Lovell, who is the commander of the mission and one of the three astronauts who becomes stranded in space after an oxygen tank explodes. Hanks’ performance as Lovell is intense and gripping, capturing the character’s leadership and determination to bring his crew back to Earth safely. The movie is a testament to the bravery and ingenuity of the astronauts and the ground crew who worked together to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
- Bridge of Spies (2015) Bridge of Spies is a Cold War movie based on the true story of lawyer James B. Donovan (played by Hanks), who is tasked with negotiating the release of an American pilot captured by the Soviet Union. Hanks’ performance as Donovan is measured and understated, portraying a man who is dedicated to his country but also believes in the importance of justice and fairness. The movie is a masterful thriller that explores themes of patriotism, loyalty, and the fragile nature of diplomacy.
- The Post (2017) The Post is a political drama based on the true story of The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a classified report that exposed the U.S. government’s lies about the Vietnam War. Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of The Post, who is instrumental in the decision to publish the papers despite the risk of being charged with treason. Hanks’ performance as Bradlee is commanding and authoritative, portraying a man who is willing to risk everything for the sake of the truth. The movie is a timely reminder of the importance of a free press in a democracy and a tribute to the journalists who risk their lives to expose the truth.