Happy Birthday Tom Hanks: A Look At His Most Memorable Roles

Today Tom Hanks celebrates his 58th birthday, and we take the opportunity to look at some of his most memorable roles. As one of the most beloved American actors in modern times, Hanks has been in some unforgettable movies.

It would be quite a task to mention all the films Tom Hanks has made during his illustrious career. Needless to say, he is one of the most respected, sought after actors in Hollywood and has proven time and time again that he has the acting chops to tackle any role.

From comedies to dramas to rom-coms, Hanks has done it all. Hanks is not only a successful actor, but has tested the directing waters and proved that he is also a great writer when he penned the first episode of the World War II HBO drama, Band Of Brothers. Tom Hanks has won many major awards, including the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes.

Let’s take a look at some of Tom Hanks’ most notable roles to celebrate his birthday:

Big (1988)

It seems like ages ago when we saw Tom Hanks in Big, the story of a boy who makes a wish to be big at a carnival machine. When he wakes up the following day, his wish has been granted, and he becomes a 12-year-old boy in an adult body. Josh, the name of his character, has to deal with being an adult, which includes going on a date. Hanks recently recreated the famous “piano scene” at the toy store.

Check it out:

Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

Also starring Meg Ryan, Sleepless In Seattle became a classic chick-flick in the 90s. The film was Hanks’ breakthrough and propelled his popularity to a higher level. The story follows a recently widowed man, Sam Baldwin, and his teenage son, Jonah, who relocate to Seattle to escape their sorrow. Annie Reed (Ryan) falls in love with Sam when she hears his story on a radio show, arranged by Jonah.

Philadelphia (1993)

Hanks did a complete 180 with his next role as gay lawyer Andrew Beckett, who when diagnosed with AIDS, gets fired by his law firm. In his effort to sue his former employer, he hires homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who in the process changes his opinion of gay people. The moving rendition of this role, for which he lost 35-pounds and thinned his hair to fit the part, earned him the 1993 Oscar for Best Actor.

Forrest Gump (1994)

On the heels of his Oscar for Philadelphia, Tom Hanks rendered another stellar performance when he took on Forrest Gump, which has become one of his most popular films. The story follows young Forrest, who despite not being intelligent, manages to be present at some of the most important events of the 20th century. Tom Hanks became only the second actor to win back-to-back Oscars for Best Actor for his performance.

Apollo 13 (1995)

“Houston, we have a problem,” one of the best known movie lines of all time was uttered by Tom Hanks, who played module commander Jim Lovell. The story of Apollo 13 is one of the most dramatic events of the U.S. Space Program and it riveted the nation. “Three astronauts must devise a strategy to return to Earth safely after their spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage.” (IMDB)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

In one of the most graphic war movies ever made, Tom Hanks plays Captain Miller, who, after the Normandy landing, embarks on a mission to find Private Ryan. The landing on D-Day serves as the opening scene, which lasts 27 minutes and has riveting images of what it was like for Allied forces to take Omaha Beach. Saving Private Ryan was called by some “the best war movie ever made,” and Steven Spielberg won his second Oscar for Best Director.

The Green Mile (1999)

The adaptation of Stephen King’s novel had Tom Hanks starring as a guard on death row. He, along with his colleagues, is touched by one of the inmates they are caring for, a black man who is accused of raping and murdering a child, but who has a special gift. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards.

The Polar Express (2004)

Tom Hanks hit it big in this endearing Christmas story, which has become everyone’s favorite holiday movie. In a role that spans six characters, the actor shows his versatility and talent for voice performances. The story of a boy who believes in Santa Claus and is taking a magical voyage, The Polar Express is a timeless modern classic for families of all sizes to enjoy.

Captain Phillips(2013)

The true story of crew members on board the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, who become the first American cargo ship to be hijacked by modern-day Somali pirates in 2009. The brave Captain Phillips heroically stands up to the thugs and saves his men, but creates controversy with the way he frees his crew. Tom Hanks famously met the real life Captain he depicted in the Oscar-nominated film, and actor Barkhad Abdi, who was making his big screen debut as the leader of the pirates, was nominated as Best Supporting Actor.

As you can see, some of the best films of our generation have featured starring roles by Tom Hanks, who turns 58-years-old today. But becoming a year older is not preventing the prolific star from pursuing new roles. He currently has at least five new films either in pre-production, filming or announced. Happy Birthday Tom Hanks and may we see many more great films!

[Image via Paramount Pictures]