Tom Hanks Just Admitted He Would Never Be Allowed to Play This Role Now

"We’re beyond that now," the Oscar-winning actor said.

Throughout his five-decade movie career, Tom Hanks has appeared in everything from rom-coms to war epics to biopics. And while he's embodied many beloved roles—winning Oscars for two of them—there's one part that Hanks wouldn't play today. And that's not only because he wouldn't want to, but also because he doesn't think he would even be asked.

Hanks opened up about his resume in a lengthy new interview with The New York Times. And in talking about one of his most famous movies from the '90s, the actor admitted that the part wouldn't be his if the film was made today—and for good reason. Read on to see which major Hanks role wouldn't have happened in 2022.

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He led a groundbreaking film in 1993.

Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in "Philadelphia"
TriStar Pictures

Almost 30 years ago, Hanks starred in Philadelphia as a gay lawyer, Andrew Beckett, who sues his firm, claiming that he was fired because of his AIDS diagnosis. For the role, Hanks won his first Oscar for Best Actor. (His second would come the following year for Forrest Gump.) Philadelphia was one of the first Hollywood movies to center HIV and AIDS, and Hanks reportedly campaigned hard for the part, wanting to prove himself as a serious actor, since he'd done mainly comedies up until that point.

Speaking to the New York Times, Hanks said of Philadelphia and 1994's Forrest Gump, "Timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now."

He doesn't think Philadelphia would be made the same way today.

Tom Hanks with his Oscar for "Philadelphia" at the 1994 Academy Awards
Fotos International/Getty Images

The New York Times interviewer put forth that Forrest Gump wouldn't be a success today because it "would be mocked and picked apart on social media before anyone even had a chance to see it." Hanks responded, "There's nothing you can do about that, but let's address 'could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?' No, and rightly so."

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He thinks that shows progress.

Tom Hanks at a UK screening of "Elvis" in May 2022
Cubankite / Shutterstock

Hanks continued of the Jonathan Demme-directed movie, "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." But, Hanks added, times have changed and that sort of casting isn't needed or accepted.

"We're beyond that now, and I don't think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy," he said. "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."

He's acknowledged that the movie was controversial among gay people at the time, too.

In 2013, Hanks took part in BAFTA's A Life In Pictures event and discussed the entirety of his career. When talking about Philadelphia, he noted that the reaction at the time of its release was divided into three segments.

"A third of the reaction was this is a groundbreaking movie," he explained. "A third of the reaction was this is nothing but a tepid potboiler that doesn't really touch upon the subject that it pretends to touch upon. And a third set was essentially from the gay segment of the world that said this movie has nothing to do with us and what we have been facing."

But, Hanks said, after activist Larry Kramer wrote a piece about why he hated Philadelphia, the movie "became controversial," which made more people go see it so they could weigh in with their own opinions. Hanks added, "That actually bought in a ton of those very Americans who thought, 'I don't know anybody who's gay and AIDS hasn't touched my life.'"

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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