Was Hanks aware of his own cultural value? C'mon, obviously not -- he's a modest guy. But between spot-on impressions of Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis and traumatizing tales from his youth -- Hanks' first moviegoing experience was supposed to be 101 Dalmatians, but wound up being the 1961 haunted house movie Scream of Fear -- Oliver did get Hanks to reflect on his "accomplishments," highlights contextualized by his own ambition. Surprisingly, Hanks' answers skewed more towards storytelling than his own on-screen personas. For instance, the actor remains proud of how he and director Ron Howard brought the Apollo 13 mission to screen, not because of his performance, but because of how faithful they were to the astronauts' accounts. Apollo 13 is big screen entertainment and it holds up under scrutiny.
"I'm a logic policeman," Hanks admitted to Oliver. When weighing a new script, Hanks says he looks for internal coherency. Will the movie play by its own rules? He gravitates towards historical fiction because the logic's more concrete -- stick to the facts, and the moviemaking can add to the thrills. But in movies that defy the truth, Hanks invests in his collaborators.
Hanks could have researched death row prison guards in 1930s Louisiana for The Green Mile, but says he didn't. As soon as the movie departed from the facts -- guards at the time didn't carry weapons out of fear of ambush, but in Stephen King's novella and the adaptation, they did -- Hanks waved off reality and stuck to the script. He'd encounter this throughout his career. The actor recalled sitting on the Forrest Gump bench, worried that this outlandish, history-bending movie would even work. Zemeckis saw it as a gamble, too. As he told Hanks in 1993: "It's a minefield!" Trust paid off -- Forrest Gump took home the Best Picture Oscar.