Advice to actors from the legend, Tom Hanks

Who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? I know everyone here at GetFilming does. Whether it’s watching one of his many huge hits like Forrest Gump, Castaway or Big. Or whether it’s listening to him talk about the film industry, he’s pretty much one of our top people ever, let alone actor. So when it comes to finding someone to give advice to actors, BAFTA Guru came up trumps with Tom Hanks.

Hanks studied theatre in University and he got a job before he got out of college in a local theatre. The job wasn’t paid, it was all about the experience and exposure. There was a group of students that all went together, all they knew that was they would be involved in theatre, in some way.

Taking these kind of opportunities really pay off in theatre and acting. In this case, Hanks was lucky to be around when a production needed a bigger cast and because eh was there, he ended up getting paid to act for the first time.

As far as getting a break goes, the only thing you can go on is your instinct and that window of opportunity you give yourself having enough money to survive for at least a while.

Looking back at what advice he would have given himself, he would have said if you’re putting 60% energy in and 40% instinct. Reverse it, put 40% energy in and 60% instinct. Believing in yourself will up your confidence and with confidence you will get better, faster.

Tom Hanks stayed at the same theatre company for three years. By the time he finished his job there, he was working in New York and already had other work lined up. He still hadn’t learned how to slow down. He was loud and he was fast, it’s how he approached acting and until this point, he thought this was the persona everyone wanted. It was around this time he started to really read the scripts he was being given, he started to study them and understand them.

Take your time and do the interior work yourself that you need to do. The work that you can do alone, just by studying the text. Before that I would just learn the text and just do it. As opposed to planning out emotive attack.

Every director he has worked with has been different, great directors are just made to be directors. Any director needs to cast well and then trust those actors you’ve hired. Don’t give them the job if you don’t think they can do what you need them to do. Learn more about directing in our directing masterclass.

Picking the right projects for an actor can be tough. How do you tell the good scripts from the bad ones? In the beginning, Tom Hanks, like every actor, was just happy to be offered jobs. After a while, he became dissatisfied with his process, feeling he wasn’t bringing anything to this part of the job other than his instinct. So his advice to actors is that experience counts for a lot here, examine who you are and where you want to be. Find the roles that fit you, not the roles you want to fit.