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Tom Hanks Says Today He Couldn’t Play The Gay Character Of ‘Philadelphia’ As A Straight Man — ‘And Rightly So’

Tom Hanks won two Best Actor Oscars in a row. One of them, 1994’s Forrest Gump, he recently defended against the backlash it beat Pulp Fiction for Best Picture. But when discussing the other, 1993’s Philadelphia, with The New York Times Magazine, he had a more mixed response. He didn’t think the movie was bad. He simply thought he personally could not do it today.

In Philadelphia, Hanks played a high-ranking lawyer who is gay and who is slowly succumbing to AIDS. He has concealed both facts from the rest of his firm. When they find out, they fire him, and he sues them for wrongful dismissal, with the help of a homophobic attorney (Denzel Washington) who slowly comes to change his ways.

“Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now? No, and rightly so,” Hanks told the publication. “The whole point of Philadelphia was, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy. 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. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”

Representation has become a major concern in Hollywood, with actors coming under fire for taking, for instance, minority roles that could go to minority performers. Scarlett Johansson, for instance, backed out of playing a trans character as recently in 2018 after public backlash, later calling her taking the role “tone deaf.”

Meanwhile, Hanks will soon hit nationwide screens in Baz Luhrmann’s epic biopic Elvis, in which Hanks once again does one of his outrageous accents.

(Via NYT Mag)