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Former sitcom actor Tom Hanks is the much-beloved star of such Hollywood hits as Splash, Big, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Toy Story, and many more.
Tom Hanks - Breakout Roles (1:54)
Tom Hanks - Early Years (1:51)
Robert Redford - Early Life (3:15)
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His performance charmed both critics and audiences, and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
With Big, Hanks established his reputation as a box-office draw as well as a talented actor. Over the next several years, however, his films failed to match the critical or commercial success of that film, although they did display Hanks's wide range, from light-hearted comedies (1989's Turner and Hooch,
1990's Joe Versus the Volcano) to more serious fare (1988’s Punchline, 1990's Bonfire of the Vanities).
In 1993, Hanks emerged with two huge hits: Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy written by Nora Ephron that rematched him with his Joe Versus the Volcano co-star, Meg Ryan; and Philadelphia, co-starring Denzel Washington. In the latter film, Hanks played a lawyer fired from his high-paying firm because he has AIDS, delivering a courageous performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.
He followed up on that tremendous year with the release of Forrest Gump (1994), the sprawling story of an unlikely hero's path through late twentieth-century American history. The film was a phenomenal box office success, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Zemeckis). For his part, Hanks brought home his second straight Best Actor statuette, becoming the first person in 50 years to accomplish that feat.
In 1996, Hanks starred in another blockbuster, Apollo 13, a Ron Howard film based on the abortive lunar landing mission of the Apollo 13 spacecraft in 1970. The film was released in the IMAX format in 2002. Like Forrest Gump, the film made over $500 million at the box office.
That same year, Hanks made his directorial and screenwriting debut with That Thing You Do!, which enjoyed moderate success. He continued his behind-the-camera duties in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, for which he produced, directed, wrote, and acted in various episodes.
In 1998, he starred in another groundbreaking blockbuster, Saving Private Ryan, a World War II drama directed by Steven Spielberg and filmed with gruesome accuracy. While the film was nominated for Best Director and Best Actor, and was a favorite for Best Picture, only Spielberg took home the Oscar.
In late 1998, Hanks also teamed once more with Ryan and Ephron, in the hit romantic comedy You've Got Mail.
Hanks soared to the top of the holiday box office in late 1999, as he reprised his role as the voice of Woody, the cowboy at the center of 1995's animated Toy Story. Toy Story 2, also featuring the voice of Tim Allen, surpassed all expectations at the box office, grossing a record-breaking $80.8 million when it opened over Thanksgiving weekend. He also starred in The Green Mile, which shot to No. 2 at the box office, behind Toy Story 2, in its opening weekend. The film was set in a Depression-era prison and adapted from a story by Stephen King.
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