LOS ANGELES—Gathering inspiration from his upcoming biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, beloved actor Tom Hanks writes an exclusive first-person essay for the October/November issue of AARP the Magazine (ATM) on the importance of lifelong friendships. He notes how, as depicted in the movie with the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, genuine friendships enrich lives and help shape careers.
Prior to becoming an EMMY®, Golden Globe® and Academy Award®-winning household name, the now unstoppable 63-year-old actor started out as most do – a struggling artist hoping to land a breakout role. At the start of his career, Hanks quickly went from intern to professional in the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland, which happens to be where his friendship and true bond with fellow actors George Maguire and Michael John McGann began.
Working with these established actors in theater productions like Hamlet and The Two Gentleman of Verona provided Hanks with the opportunity to learn from their acting skills as well as their joy and professional passion. Hanks shares, “They were the kind of actor I wanted to be – and the kind of human being I wanted to become.”
But after two seasons in Cleveland, unemployed but with an Actors’ Equity union card in hand, Hanks had to decide his next step. Returning to the comforts of home in California, or go to the Big Apple per the recommendation of Maguire and McGann who claimed, “New York City is where actors and artists go to test their talent and their wherewithal!”
After arriving in New York, McGann showed Hanks the ropes of the city and acted as any true friend would, providing Hanks with everything from housing to professional advice to warm clothing for the winter weather. When McGann and Maguire taught him how to file his taxes for the first time and a refund check arrived, Hanks felt as if he’d won the lottery. He states, “And I had. They were, and are, my friends. You would not be reading these words otherwise.”
The following are excerpts from ATM’s October/November 2019 cover story featuring Tom Hanks available in homes starting October and available online now at https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/celebrities/info-2019/tom-hanks-interview.html.
On genuine friendships:
“Good friends are the ones who tell you where to go.”
On his friendship with Maguire and McGann:
“These two actors shared their joyful lives and professional passion with all of us in the company. When I was around them in the dressing room, in the wings, at the bar after the show or taking in the Feast of the Assumption in Cleveland’s Murray Hill, they were the professionals I admired, examples of the kind of actor I wanted to be – and the kind of human being I hoped to become.”
On relocating to find work:
“I had never been out of California before getting the job in Cleveland. The comfort of the West Coast was calling me back to find what work I could in San Francisco or Berkeley, near where I grew up, or to woo the Harsh Mistress of Showbiz, who reigns over Los Angeles – to gamble against the odds like so many had before. I could go anywhere. All of my worldly possessions fit in my 1970 VW Beetle. So I asked around: Where should I go?”
On moving to New York with McGann:
“I slept on his couch for too many weeks, in the apartment he shared with a playwright and actor who didn’t know me from Adam but made me laugh all day.”
On adjusting to life in New York:
“The New York City winter was new to me, so cold that a walk outside made my jaw hurt. I did not have winter clothes.”
On his first tax lesson from Maguire and McGann:
“I had never done my taxes before. When these two pros showed me how to file my return so I’d get a refund from the IRS for nearly $600, the first moment of solvency in my adult life, I thought I had won the lottery.”
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.