New York, July 7 – Since contracting COVID-19 in March, Tom Hanks has been, despite everything, quite busy. He and his wife Rita Wilson returned home after recovering from the disease in Australia, where Hanks had been filming Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley movie.
He hosted a “Saturday Night Live” episode from home and watched his new WWII drama “Greyhound” go from a planned release in Sony Pictures theaters to Apple TV +.
“There is a kind of ongoing physiological maintenance for your brain and body that we have been following,“ Hanks said in a video conference from his California home. “The only thing you can try to do is pile the hay into small piles, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. That is what we have tried to do, go to the barn with the packing machine and say ‘we have all this hay, we have to pile it up and it is ready for the next day.”
For many, the fact that Tom Hanks contracted COVID-19 was the first alarm that sounded loud in the early days of the pandemic. If “America’s dad” could get sick, everyone could get sick. The decision to publicly announce his diagnoses, Hanks said in a recent interview, had a dual purpose. He didn’t want any rumors as to why production was stopped and could serve as a public health announcement.
“Why hide the facts?” Tom Hanks said. “Those were the facts.”
The disease, experienced with varying severity and symptoms by Hanks and Wilson, gave him insight into the different ways in which countries have responded to the coronavirus. The comparison with Australia, said Tom Hanks, is not good for the United States. But he added that there is no need for “another garbage truck to unload everything that has gone wrong” on the United States.
“Here we are, let’s do our part,” said Tom Hanks. “Why don’t we all wear face masks, comply with social distancing, and wash our hands? Sounds simple enough to me and if you have a problem doing that, I definitely would not trust you with a driver’s license as there are chances that you will drive as fast as you want or you will never put your turn signal on and go against pedestrians. ”
Before the pandemic “Greyhound” was going to hit theaters in June, in the gap between “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Top Gun 2”.
“We were going to fight like the smallest puppy in the pack for someone to pay attention to us,” said Tom Hanks, laughing.
Now “Greyhound” is heading straight for homes as a big premiere and little competition similar in scale or prominence from its cast. Starring Hanks, this special effects-filled World War II story is a heavyweight compared to most of the live streaming premiere options in this rare summer season in film. Disney + has “Hamilton” but Apple TV + has Tom Hanks.
The $ 40 million movie, bought by Apple for about $ 70 million, is a tense 88-minute naval drama about a lesser-viewed aspect of war, the Battle of the Atlantic. Tom Hanks’ character is a humble captain for the first time leading a fleet in the Atlantic, guarding them against attacking German submersibles as they traverse the “black moat,” a mid-ocean territory without air support. With strong waves, sonar sounds, and evasive maneuvers, the film has almost mythical qualities.
“When it was all ruined we started thinking, ‘We have this movie about the immobility of the characters in the middle of something that they have no idea how long it’s going to last,'” said Tom Hanks. “We did not expect a pandemic to mimic the theme and action of the film.”
“This is about yesterday, today and tomorrow,” said Tom Hanks. “Those are the days practically humanity has.”
Greyhound has long been a beloved project of the 63-year-old actor. She wrote the script adapted from CS Forester’s 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd,” a book her first friend and late director of “Sleepless in Seattle” gave her for the first time, Nora Ephron.
“It stuck with him,” said Gary Goetzman, production partner at Hanks and co-founder of his company, Playtone. “As usually happens with him, he usually ruminates on a certain idea, he gets into his blender and one day he put a script on my desk and I was very interested in doing it.”
Hanks reached out to others to write it and met other filmmakers, but they used to have a bigger view of the film.
“I was like, ‘I love you so much, but that’s not the point of what we’re trying to do,'” Hanks said. “We are trying to condense this, we are trying to get as much out as we can.”
Eventually, he found its director in Aaron Schneider, a veteran cinematographer who directed 2010’s “Get Low” with Robert Duvall.
“Tom always called it the perfect little 90-minute movie,” said Schneider. “From the beginning, his input was to maintain this almost hyper subjective point of view in terms of his captain’s experience. We were going to put the public in his world, glued to his shoulder. “
Hanks, of course, has been to similar worlds before, has captained four times in “Saving Private Ryan”, “Apollo 13”, “Sully” and the Last time in “Captain Phillips”. A voracious reader of history, he has frequently returned to World War II. With Steven Spielberg, Hanks develops for Apple the third miniseries after “The Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific ”.
For Hanks, whose father served in the Navy, his attachment to this era is beyond his DNA. It’s about connecting with the war-time survival and sacrifice mentality.
“All journalists ask me, Why do you keep going back to World War II? ” Hanks said, with a vaguely European accent. “The answers are because I return to that position of stress in the psyche of a human. You don’t necessarily have to be a captain aboard a warship in the middle of the North Atlantic. It could be an eight-year-old boy, or a 24-year-old woman, or a 54-year-old man in the United States wondering ‘are we going to live or are we going to die? Are we going to be free or not? will this last? ‘ For me, that is the human condition in every circumstance, even now in 2020. ”
The film had weeks of post-production left when activities in Hollywood halted. During this period, a modern navy captain, Brett Cozier, was removed from his position at the helm of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after requesting permission to land crew members sick with COVID-19. In Cozier, who like Hanks tested positive for the coronavirus, Hanks saw the type of character he is usually attracted to.