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Tom Hanks as Supporting Roles: 4 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

Image: Tom Hanks as Supporting Roles: 4 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor
Tom Hanks at the Governor's Ball after the telecast of the 61st Annual Academy Awards, 1989. (Alan Light/wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 08:32 PM

When we think of Tom Hanks roles, they are usually main characters. Turns out, he doesn’t have to be the star of a movie to make an impact. In supporting roles, Hanks tends to reach deeper into himself to develop a character. The result is usually quite impressive.

Here are four Tom Hanks roles in which the actor played a supporting role and made a major impression.

1. “A League of Their Own” (1992)

Jimmy Dugan is an “aging, vulgar, overweight, alcoholic baseball manager,” according to Tom Hanks Online. When he’s recruited to train a ragtag bunch of World War II-era women to hit, pitch, and field, it gives him a second chance.

Hanks played more of a supporting role to Geena Davis, Lori Petty, and Madonna, but it was the first time he played “a real character part.” His Dugan adds a humorous yet poignant human touch to the film.

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2. “Toy Story” (1995)

Although they supplied the voices, the actors took a backseat to the animated characters in “Toy Story” and the two sequels it spawned.

Movie critic James Berardinelli wrote, “The visual aspect is the centerpiece of [the movie].”

Hanks voices Woody, a cowboy figure and favorite toy of a young boy, who is soon forced to share pride of place with a futuristic action figure named Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Woody interacts with Buzz and a cast of other toy characters throughout the film as they learn about friendship.

Even grownups tended to lose themselves in the characters and forget about the movie stars who were giving them voice.

But director John Lasseter knew that Hanks would be an ideal person to bring Woody to life. Hanks “has the ability to take emotions and make them appealing,” he once explained.

3. “That Thing You Do” (1996)

Hanks was too busy making his directorial debut with this movie to take a lead role. Focusing on a 1960s band with a hot new song, “That Thing You Do” features Hanks as the manager who tries to keep the band’s streak of fame going.

The movie received mixed reviews, but Rolling Stone enjoyed Hanks' turn as a slick, money-hungry manager. “Hanks plays this suit in dark shades (to hide his dead eyes) with insidious skill. Instead of getting the Wonders back in the studio, he tours them to milk their hit.”

4. “Catch Me If You Can” (2002)

Leonardo DiCaprio takes the commanding role as Frank Abagnale Jr., the real-life con artist who posed as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor before he was 19 years old. As Carl Hanratty, Hanks is the FBI agent who is hot – and sometimes cold – on his trail.

According to Tom Hanks Online, “Equal parts downtrodden and dogged, Hanratty was one of Tom Hanks’ most distinctive onscreen creations and stood in perfect contrast to DiCaprio’s glamorous, happy-go-lucky Abagnale.”

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

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When we think of Tom Hanks roles, they are usually main characters. Turns out, he doesn’t have to be the star of a movie to make an impact. In supporting roles, Hanks tends to reach deeper into himself to develop a character. The result is usually quite impressive.
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