One of America’s most beloved actors, Tom Hanks has given the world some of cinema’s most iconic and memorable characters throughout his career which already spans over forty years. He sure has a way with words, too. His emotional performances tug at our heartstrings, and whether the story is a war drama, romantic-comedy, fantasy, biopic, or even an animated film, we are always left with valuable, memorable lessons. Next up for Hanks is another loveable and compassionate, though grumpy old man, as he takes on the role of Otto Anderson in A Man Called Otto, adapted from the novel and Swedish film, A Man Called Ove (2015). With a script by David Magee, known for Finding Neverland (2004) and Life of Pi (2012), we can expect another heartwarming, inspiring performance by Hanks with plenty of nuggets of wisdom to take home. Before seeing A Man Called Otto, check out these touching words to live by from our favorite Tom Hanks-starring films.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.” – Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own (1992)
While Tom Hanks’ delivery of “there’s no crying in baseball” remains unmatched and became an instant cinema classic, it’s Jimmy Dugan’s conversation with star player Dottie when she quits the team that really packs an emotional punch. Jimmy initially comes across to the Rockford Peaches as cynical, throwing constant rude insults at the all-women’s baseball team, which he believes to be a joke. After a great season though, Jimmy warms up and becomes more of a mentor to the girls, though he still has plenty of wise, hard truths to share. Things in life might be hard, even things that are enjoyable, but the feeling of accomplishing something difficult makes all the hard work worth it in the end.
“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a research room?” “No. Would it make you more comfortable?” – Librarian and Andrew Beckett, Philadelphia (1993)
In another moving, emotional performance, Hanks stars as Andrew Beckett, a successful lawyer wrongfully terminated from his position due to his sexuality and AIDS diagnosis. Hanks took home his first Academy Award for his heartbreaking performance. Beckett tries to hire a lawyer to take his case, but all ten attorneys decline, including African-American lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who fears that he may have contracted the HIV virus after casual contact with Andy. Only after seeing firsthand the homophobia that Andy experiences on the daily, and how Andy continues to stand his ground in the face of discrimination, does Miller accept the case, able to relate to Andy due to the racial discrimination he has also faced in his life. The way Beckett stands up for himself isn’t with anger or hatred, but his response to the homophobic librarian is so matter of fact that it’s chilling, easily letting others know that their discriminatory actions and words are wrong without stirring up much heat. Andy knows that, even if the whole world might be against him, he must remain strong – never backing down and never letting them win.
“Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump (1994)
It’s no surprise that Hanks won his second Best Actor achievement at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of the titular character in this classic. Really, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. With physical and intellectual disabilities, Forrest is a less than ordinary man that lives an extraordinary life. While others might mock him, Forrest always has a kind heart, willing to land a hand to anyone that might need it. He lives a blessed, fulfilling life, but throughout all of it, remains true to himself and never changes, continuing to give back to others and help his sick loved ones. While the famous motto may have originally come from Forrest’s mother, it rings true for everyone, as each day can bring new surprises and new adventures, and it’s up to everyone to try to make the best of them.
“From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And it’s not a miracle, we just decided to go.” – Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 (1995)
“Houston, we have a problem,” might be Tom Hanks’ more famous line from the retelling of the successful failure that was the Apollo 13 lunar mission – where the crew of astronauts made it safely back to earth after mechanical failures prevented them from touching down on the moon’s surface – but we believe that this quote encapsulates the determination of the human spirit of adventure and discovery. Of course, the first moon landing as part of the Apollo 11 mission was groundbreaking, with countless years of scientific research and preparation from countless individuals leading up to it. But it was also humanity’s desire for innovation and unwillingness to back down from numerous challenges and obstacles that made the mission not only possible, but successful. With the right team and support, anything – big or small, revolutionary or ordinary – can be achieved.
“Reach for the sky!” – Woody, Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story ushered in a new legacy of animation by both serving as the foundation for Pixar Animation Studios and becoming the first fully computer-animated feature film, and Tom Hanks and Tim Allen captured hearts of all ages as the bickering, seemingly incompatible cowboy and space ranger that would grow from enemies to best friends across countless sequels, shorts, and spin-offs. Sure, Woody’s catchphrase might be nothing more than a pre-programmed pull string phrase from his cowboy background, but it’s also motivational and encouraging – sparking a drive to always go after one’s goals. Plus, it perfectly complements Buzz’s own “to infinity and beyond” catchphrase, highlighting that the two really are a perfectly odd pair of friends, and that there’s plenty of room for everyone.
“James, earn this…earn it.” – Captain John Miller, Saving Private Ryan (1998)
While simple in nature, one of the last lines of the film is full of depth. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan frequently makes lists of one of the greatest movies of all time, with heavily praised cinematography and an outstanding performance by Hanks as the Captain of a group of soldiers that are tasked with finding and bringing home the last surviving Ryan brother in World War II. Hanks’ delivery of the impactful line presents the question of not only what makes a life worth living, but also what makes a life worth saving, while also emphasizing the gratitude that we should have for those that have come before us that have provided us with better opportunities, whether we knew them directly or not. And with this, it also emphasizes that a life does not have to be extraordinary to be worth living and worth saving. Any life can be rich and fulfilling, so long as we are happy with our choices and do our best to give back and create a better world for others as well.
“I knew it wasn’t…possible. What can I say, sometimes a guy just wants the impossible.” – Joe Fox, You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Tom Hanks rom-coms were quintessential to the 90s, so we couldn’t possibly forget about them! In the days before swiping right, online dating took the form of dial-up Internet and AOL anonymous screen names and chat rooms. The irony here though, is that Joe Fox, aka NY152, and Kathleen Kelly, aka Shopgirl, know each other in real life as bickering, competing bookstore owners, all while falling for each other’s online personas. It’s a Nora Ephron classic that calls into question how a given set of circumstances might impact the trajectory of a relationship, and how giving yourself the chance to get to know someone, their real, true self, might just change your perspective on them.
“Time rules over us without mercy, not caring if we’re healthy or ill, hungry or drunk, Russian, American, beings from Mars. It’s like a fire. It could either destroy us or keep us warm. That’s why every FedEx office has a clock. Because we live or we die by the clock. We never turn our back on it. And we never, ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time!” – Chuck Noland, Cast Away (2000)
Leave it to Tom Hanks to give a stellar performance while acting opposite a volleyball. We never thought we would cry over the loss of a bloody Wilson Sporting Goods volleyball, but Hanks proved us wrong. As an executive workaholic for FedEx, Chuck Noland always emphasizes the importance of being on time and delivering packages on time, however in the process, he’s neglectful of the time he has with family and loved ones, even abandoning them on the Christmas holiday – during which his girlfriend, ironically, gives him an heirloom pocket watch. After crashing on a deserted island, the watch breaks, leaving Chuck without any method of accurately keeping time for four years. Chuck’s speech serves as a cautionary tale of never taking for granted the time we have with family and friends, but also to be free enough to let ourselves get lost in the joyful moments of life.
You have two stamp. One red, one green. So, I have chance go New York, 50-50.” – Viktor Navorski, The Terminal (2004)
Even while stuck in one of the worst situations imaginable – locked out of his home country of Krakozhia due to a coup d’état after just having arrived at JFK International Airport and unable to enter the United States thanks to his now invalid passport – Viktor always remains optimistic during his life as a refugee living in the airport. Even if that life includes sleeping in a renovation zone at the terminal and eating meals made up of crackers stacked with condiments. He befriends several airport employees, learns English, and picks up jobs under the table, all while continually checking in on whether he is cleared to visit New York. No matter what the odds might be, there is always a chance, and a chance is never something to give up on.