Have you ever awoken in the night, sat up in bed, and found yourself wondering why the hell Tom Hanks has never played a villain? Well, if you're like me and have experienced just that kind of nocturnal phenomena, then today you'll be interested to hear, from the horse's mouth, just why Hanks never plays villains. It turns out he realized somewhere in the last 40 years, that he doesn't scare anyone. It makes sense to me. But that must be hell trying to raise kids.

"I recognized in myself a long time ago that I don't instill fear in anybody. Now, that's different than being nice, you know? I think I have a cache of mystery. But it's not one of malevolence. It's because I never get [bad guys], because bad guys, by and large, require some degree of malevolence that I don't think I can fake."

And let it be known that Hanks finds excuses for some of his more villainous roles such as an assassin in Sam Mendes' Road To Perdition and The Wachowski siblings' Cloud Atlas. "But that was under an awful lot of makeup," he says, adding that he "can't play a villain who wants to destroy for no reason because he can't bring himself to understand what that motivation might be."

Okay, fair enough. But more interesting still is a quote pulled from a bit further down in the recent interview with Hanks about playing Mister Rogers in the upcoming bio-flick A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Here Hanks adds this.

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"Let's not call this a dark side, but: I realize, and I used over and over again, the ability to seduce a room, seduce a group of people, and that it started off when I was very young as a self-defense mechanism but then turned into a manipulative kind of thing, because I didn't realize that I was as good at it as I was. And part of that is I am not malevolent. I'm not mysterious. You're not going to get a huge amount of anger out of me or anything like that. I'm not coming in to dominate a room, but I am coming in to seduce it somehow."

Which sounds exactly like the kind of thing a villain would say.

Now while it may be a shame to some that Hanks will never play a villain, I am just going to go ahead and call out Hank's comments here as a bunch of bull. Mind you this is coming from a place of love for Hanks and his work. What I mean is that if Hanks could play a guy who falls in love with a mermaid, a kid who grows into an adult overnight, a toy, a guy whose best friend is a volleyball, a bumpkin, David S. Pumpkins and Walt Disney, he sure as hell can find the malevolence to play, no pun intended, a killer villain. He came close playing Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, Ph.D. in The Coen Brothers' 2004 remake The Ladykillers, butt that was still a comedy. Maybe Quentin Tarantino should be the one to bring that out in Hanks in his tenth and final film. Oh, my god. How great would THAT be?! Meanwhile, this story comes to us from The New York Times.

Mike Sprague at Movieweb
Mike Sprague