Catch all 

Tom Hanks on supporting roles and box-office receipts

If Leonardo DiCaprio is the "Me," then Tom Hanks is the "You" in Steven Spielberg's new movie Catch Me If You Can. Although based on the '60s exploits of a real-life con artist (and teenager) named Frank Abagnale, Hanks' role as an FBI agent who spends years in dogged pursuit is actually a figment of the screenwriter's imagination. It's hardly the usual star vehicle for Hanks, 46, who says that was precisely part of its appeal.

Creative Loafing: Considering how cute and cuddly DiCaprio comes across in this movie, is there any risk of glorifying or glamorizing a character who's essentially a lying, cheating criminal?

Tom Hanks: Sure, but don't all movies glorify or glamorize their subject matter to some degree?

Road to Perdition didn't.

Well, no, I guess I can't say Road to Perdition was glorifying or glamorizing. Look, I think society makes it possible for guys like Frank Abagnale to exist. I mean, does anybody even prosecute bank fraud anymore? If you're standing in front of a judge alongside rapists and murderers or whatever, and then here's a guy who passed a bad check for $800, well, guess which guy's going home a free man that day? I think Frank pays the price for his actions. Eventually, he does get caught. Even though he has all these beautiful chicks around him all the time, he leads a somewhat empty life.

Is it a relief not to be carrying a movie on your own for a change?

In all honesty, it is refreshing for a change. I mean, the epitome of that is something like Cast Away. I mean, good Lord, I had to be on set every single day, and I was in almost every single shot. That can wear you down. But it also takes away a lot of the joy of being an actor in the first place, which is the give and take of being part of an ensemble, you know? Sometimes -- most times -- being removed from that ensemble just isn't as much fun. In this case, the part was so good, and it was a chance to work with my friend Steven Spielberg again after Saving Private Ryan. Aside from that, if the work schedule happens to be really nice, and you only have to work four days a week as opposed to your usual nine-day week, that's just icing on the cake.

As one of its producers, do you have any theories about why My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the blockbuster that it did?

I think there's a universal appeal to any story about family, because everybody in the audience can recognize and project their own family onto the one they're watching in the movie, whether it's the Corleones or the Portokaloses. In a more Mr.-Smarty-Pants kind of way, there was nothing else like it in the marketplace. You know, you get all these research reports and statistics that tell you your movie won't make any money unless it's aimed at a very specific demographic, and then lo and behold the audience is actually looking for something they haven't seen in a while and can't get anywhere else. It was like, you couldn't stop people from showing up for our little low-budget movie, no matter how many ads for The Scorpion King they were bombarded with.

Are you bothered by the preoccupation with opening-weekend figures?

Not really. Several years ago, I had one of the biggest successes of my career with A League of Their Own. It stayed around all summer long somewhere in the top five, but it was never a No. 1 movie. There's a template put on it by the media, frankly. I mean, even National Public Radio will tell you on Monday morning, "The Scorpion King opened No. 1 at the box-office this weekend ..." It matters to some people for like a day, but it has no real lasting value, because movies come and go. It's like tracking the baseball standings. You check out where the Dodgers are at any given time, but the preoccupation is always after-the-fact -- here's what they did as opposed to here's what they will do over the long haul.


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