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Tuesday 22 September 2009

Great Advice From Tom Hanks on how to survive as an actor, using perseverance.

A few years back I was watching Tom Hanks on The Actors Studio with James Lipton. I think it's from around 1999. Hanks, as always, was funny, profound and interesting. But it was this last question, from a young actor, which really showed the most wisdom. I typed this out; and I'm glad I did, because the videos of this interview keep getting taken down from YouTube. Luckily, it's a great thing to read off the page.

Young Actor to Tom Hanks - "I was wondering if you could impart some knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the industry.. just the grey reality of what that entails, and how do you really survive?"

Tom Hanks - "Wow - well you're really talking about perseverance. Um, and it's sometimes perseverance in the face of great adversity. And the adversity always is, 'I'm not working.' That's hard, man. It's hard to get past-- look I'm not in a play, I'm not in a movie. The best I can say is I'm up for a callback on a Danone Yogurt commercial - that's hard in order to have that be the thing that is kind of like defining what you do. There's no trick getting past it, there's no magic thing you can do. But it's like a love affair with someone you're gonna live your whole life with. You have to protect what it is ----- Now, you're talking to a guy; I haven't been out of a job since 1982. I had a fallow year after 'Bosom Buddies' in which I really thought well that's it, I've had my shot. Nothing else is gonna happen for me. And a year unemployed in Los Angeles is like six years unemployed in New York. It is a long friggin' time. And you think you've got a sticker on the back of your car that says "I used to be an actor", it feels that bad some times. But since then, I'm the luckiest man in the world...... The perseverance aspect of it is something that you can define every day and that takes a little bit of discipline - and more than anything else it takes this degree of perseverance that ultimately is not your measure of who you are as an artist but it's a measure of what you are as a professional, and it's HARD - cause there's nothing greater; nothing greater than saying I am a professional actor and I will be till the day I die. So, and that's where it gets tough."

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