Thursday 8 December 2016

Read Tom Hanks' letter to director of The Sting asking him to 'discover' him in 1974

Alice Vincent

Published 30/07/2015 | 14:18

Tom Hanks is behind the big screen adventure based on the Major Matt Mason action figure
Tom Hanks is behind the big screen adventure based on the Major Matt Mason action figure

Tom Hanks, widely regarded as one of Hollywood's nicest actors, wrote a letter to an industry big shot in 1974 as an attempt to start a career in the movies.

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Hanks, then aged 18, wrote to George Roy Hill, the Oscar-winning director of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in the hope that he would become "discovered".

The letter is kept in the Library of the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and can be read almost as a prophecy of Hanks' successful career cinema's best-loved everyman.

He reminds Hill that "I do not want to be some big time, Hollywood superstar with girls crawling all over me, just a hometown American boy who has hit the big time, owns a Porsche, and calls Robert Redford 'Bob'."

Hanks most likely wrote the letter before studying theatre at Chabot College in Hayward, California. He spent his late teens and years at Hayward and, later, California State University, going to plays and attending acting classes.

He got his first film role in New York, aged 23, in a low-budget slasher film, but ound more success in TV. After a string of comedy roles, Hanks cemented his position as an acting heavyweight with Big, in 1988.

It's not known if Hill ever replied to Hanks, but this is what the actor's letter said in full:

Dear Mr. Hill,

Seeing that I have seen your fantastically entertaining and award-winning film The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and enjoyed it very much, it is all together fitting and proper that you should "discover" me.

Now, right away I know what you are thinking ("who is this kid?"), and I can understand your apprehensions. I am a nobody. No-one outside of Skyline High School has heard of me. My looks are not stunning. I am not built like a Greek God, and I can't even grow a mustache, but I figure if people will pay to see certain films they will pay to see me.

Let's work out the details of my discovery. We can do it the way Lana Turner was discovered, me sitting on a soda shop stool, you walk in and notice me and — BANGO — I am a star.

Or maybe we can do it this way. I stumble into your office one day and beg for a job. To get rid of me, you give me a stand-in part in your next film. While shooting the film, the star breaks his leg in the dressing room, and, because you are behind schedule already, you arbitrarily place me in his part and — BANGO — I am a star.

All of these plans are fine with me, or we could do it any way you would like, it makes no difference to me! But let's get one thing straight. Mr. Hill, I do not want to be some big time, Hollywood superstar with girls crawling all over me, just a hometown American boy who has hit the big time, owns a Porsche, and calls Robert Redford "Bob".

Respectfully submitted,

Your Pal Forever,

Thomas J. Hanks

Telegraph.co.uk

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