Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for his role as a gay man with AIDS in the film “Philadelphia,” said that if the film were made today, a straight actor wouldn’t be cast in that role, and “rightly so.”
The “Elvis” actor reflected on the role in an interview this week with the New York Times’ David Marchese. The journalist asked Hanks about two of his most famous films – 1993’s “Philadelphia” and 1994’s “Forrest Gump,” in which he plays a character with undefined intellectual disabilities.
Hanks called both films “timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now.”
After Marchese argued that neither film would be made today with Hanks in the same roles, Hanks agreed that a straight actor shouldn’t be cast in the “Philadelphia” role he played nearly 30 years ago.
“One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man,” Hanks said. “We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”
At the time of “Philadelphia’s” release, it was the first major Hollywood film to depict the AIDS crisis. The year after it premiered, AIDS would become the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 44, according to the American Psychological Association. Today, more than 1.2 million Americans live with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS if left untreated.
“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity,” he said.
Hanks also went on to defend “Forrest Gump,” a film he said was written off as a “sappy nostalgia fest” after it won the Oscar for best picture, mentioning the “moment of undeniable heartbreaking humanity” when the character of Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam War amputee, walks on prosthetic legs.
“I might get weepy thinking about it now,” Hanks said.