Tom Hanks. Julia Roberts. Big-ass movie stars.
I mean, not to put to blunt a point on it, but that’s what they are. They are major proven durable movie stars, the classic box-office-tested definition of the term. They’ve opened more movies than most actors will ever appear in, and they’ve aged successfully, finding new ways to repurpose what it is they do in the first place, and how they do it. They’ve had to constantly reinvent to some extent just to survive. It’s something you either do or don’t master, and to have the careers they’ve had, you master it.
For Hanks, part of that reinvention was the way he gradually moved into writing, directing, and producing. I think he’s got a really interesting track record that reveals a lot about his interests. He’s fascinated by WWII, the space race, pop music, Greeks, Mormons, Maurice Sendak, and, evidently, Neil Gaiman. So, you know… that’s pretty easily summed up. Or, wait, maybe Hanks is one of those guys who is using his awesome clout for some actual good in this business, showing some real taste in what he helps bring to the screen.
For Julia Roberts, that has always been about mixing it up. She rarely repeats herself twice in a row, and for all the flack fanboys and critics of some of her bigger popcorn titles want to throw at her, she takes chances. She does things that really pay off. Sure, she’s got movies like “Eat Pray Love” or “Mona Lisa Smile” on the resume that I don’t connect with, but she’s also made movies like “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind.” Or “Closer.” Or “Duplicity.” Or “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Or the “Ocean’s” movies. And that’s just in the last decade.
Sitting down with the two of them together, you wonder if you’re going to get anything real out of them, only because of how much press they do in one rapid burst, one mad dash. And I could hear Hanks in the hall, being “Loud Tom Hanks,” which is probably the funniest version of Tom Hanks in my book. And then I walked into the room and introduced myself. “HITFIX?! WHAT’S THAT?!” he bellowed, then paused. “Wait, how do I know your name?”
“Well, I used to be Moriarty at Ain’t It Cool,” I answered, and we were off and running. My editor cut back what happened next, but I think you’ll get the idea.
The only thing you won’t see here that I wish you did is the moment when Julia Roberts, confused by everything that was happening, looked into the camera and solemnly intoned, “I am Moriarty.”
The funny part is how much time I’d spent with Hanks on the set of “The Green Mile,” back when it was still a secret that I was Moriarty. I remember seeing him browse the Internet and mention Ain’t It Cool, so finally putting name to face for him was a very funny moment, and I’m glad we were able to get some of it on tape.
Overall, these two couldn’t have been more fun to chat with, and I’ll have my review of their film for you tomorrow.
“Larry Crowne” opens in theaters everywhere July 1, 2011.