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Times Tom Hanks Played Real Life People

Gettyimages | MARK RALSTON
By Daniel Johnson

Over his career that began in the late 1970s, Tom Hanks has been one of Hollywood's greatest movie stars and the face of the film industry. From comedies as Buzz Lightyear to playing a dying AIDs patient in "Philadelphia," Hanks has had a very diverse filmography. That being said, he has taken many non-fictitious roles and has portrayed real people very well, with the portrayal of Fred Rodgers in "Mr. Rodgers" as the latest example. Here are a few of Hanks' greatest roles as playing someone who existed.

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Saving Mr. Banks


From one childhood icon to another. In 2013, Hanks played the Walt Disney opposite of Emma Thompson's portrayal of P.L Travers in "Saving Mr. Banks." The comedic-drama period piece which focused on Walt Disney attempting to convince Travers to allow them to produce a movie about her work, Mary Poppins and Travers reluctantly agree. The relationship between the two leads is the centerpiece of the film, both are skeptical and wary of one another before allowing the movie to be made.

Captain Phillips


Away from the family-friendly or dramatic films, Hanks plays the title character in this crime-thriller. In 2009, Somalian pirates captured a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean and for five days, the pirate held hostages, including Phillips before being arrested by the US Navy with the hostages safe. While Hanks himself was not nominated, Barkhad Abdi, who played the leader of the pirates, was nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and won in that category in the BAFTA.

The Post

Gettyimages | Vivien Killilea

Tag team with Meryl Streep and directed by Steven Spielberg, Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the executive editor for The Washington Post from 1968-91. The film focuses on the two superstars in their roles fighting to catch up to the New York Times during the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Bridge of Spies


Tom Hanks stars in another period drama directed by Steven Spielberg during the height of the Cold War. Here, he plays lawyer James B. Donovan who negotiated the hostage switch of a Soviet spy named Rudolph Abel that Donovan had represented in 1957 and Francis Gary Powers, a U-2 American pilot who was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 and a student named Frederic Pryor. Similar to Captain Phillips, the movie netted an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor from Hanks' co-star, Mark Rylance, for his portrayal of Rudolph Abel.


Gettyimages | Bobby Bank

In January of 2009, Captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landed shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York. The moment became iconic with the safe landing on the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers. Hanks portrayed the pilot in the 2016 film "Sully," to critical and commercial acclaim.

Apollo 13


"Houston, we have a problem" is one of the most iconic lines in film over the last 40 years. And surprise surprise, it came from Hanks portraying a real-life person in the film Apollo 13, which told the story of the aborted Apollo 13 space shuttle mission. The film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and marked one of the strongest periods of Hanks' still young film career.

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