He’s conquered the box office. He won two Oscars. He’s one-half of Hollywood’s finest example that true love exists, and he’s worked with everyone from Robert De Niro to Madonna. How accomplished is Tom Hanks? In his latest film, Cloud Atlas, he plays half a dozen characters. But in the year 2012, all of that pales in comparison to what may be Tom Hanks’s most impressive, or, at least, most relevant achievement: viral video superstar.
Though his recent film résumé—Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Cloud Atlas—reflects that of a serious actor, Hanks has always shown a gleeful exuberance for goofiness—think back to the days of Big or Bosom Buddies. It’s a personality trait that is perfectly suited for the age of YouTube, memes, tweets, and rabid “ohmigod have you seen this” sharing chains. While promoting this weekend’s premiere of Cloud Atlas, Hanks appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, sparking a viral frenzy by doing a slam-poetry ode to the ‘90s family sitcom Full House. The delightfully absurd clip is the just the latest example of Hanks proving his modern Web-savvy, proven by this tour through his funniest viral moments.
Full House Slam Poetry
Ever hoped to see a two-time Best Actor winner dressed all in black performing earnest slam poetry based on a sitcom that starred infant Olsen twins? You got it, dude. Apropos of nothing—really, the key to a viral hit—Hanks spits impassioned verse about Kimmy Gibbler and Uncle Jesse with such intensity that viewers are left unsure of whether to feel nostalgic or frightened. “Three men raising three girls. Or are the girls raising them?” Have mercy.
Stephen Ghoulbert’s Spooky-Time Halloween Fun Guide
Hanks wasn’t on The Colbert Report Thursday to “talk about me or my movies or my legacy as a living legend,” he swore, just there to give some super cool Halloween costume tips. Like Woody from Toy Story, for example. Or an astronaut who says, “Houston, we have a problem,” as Hanks once declared in Apollo 13. The shirtless boy holding a FedEx package and a “Wilson” candy bucket was certainly not a reference to Cast Away, either. Matt Damon eventually shows up as Private Ryan, and the jig is up—this was shameless self-promotion—but even Colbert couldn’t stay mad at Hanks. The smitten host tweeted, “Exactly how nice is @tomhanks? Let’s just say when a person does something nice for you, there’s a reason you say T.Hanks.”
Good morning America, indeed. Millions of daytime TV enthusiasts casually enjoying a charming interview between Elizabeth Vargas and our American treasure last week choked on their cornflakes when he-who-was “Mr. Nice Guy” dropped the f-bomb. Adorably mortified, Hanks said his mother wanted to slap his mouth for his four-lettering transgression. The Internet, however, lives for such spontaneous vulgarity. The clip went viral instantly.
Saturday Night Live
It took only one word for Tom Hanks to provide the most memorable moment of the Saturday Night Live season so far. (Happily for broadcast censors, this time it wasn’t an expletive.) During a skewering of the town-hall presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Hanks made a surprise appearance to ask the candidates a question. Rocking an impressive Lawng Island accent, Hanks builds up his punchline like a comedy pro before delivering his big line: “Libya.”
Toddlers & Tiaras with Tom Hanks
Here Comes Hanksy Boo Boo. In a skit for the Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show, Hanks granted the host exclusive access to his enthusiastic preparations for his daughter Sophie’s Miss Ultimate Sexy Baby Nevada pageant. Sure, Hanks has no daughter named Sophie, Nevada has no Miss Ultimate Sexy Baby Nevada pageant (though we wouldn’t be surprised if it did), and the whole thing was fake. But Hanks’s “sexy hands, sexy feet” pageant walk is convincing enough to argue for a second career as a pageant coach.
Movie: The Movie
The A-list roster of actors who participated in Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Oscar special this year puts any of Garry Marshall’s recent rom-com orgies to shame: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Charlize Theron, Colin Farrell, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Jessica Biel, Matt Damon, Chewbacca, and more. But it’s Tom Hanks as a robo-lawyer who is given, wisely, top billing.
Tom Hanks played himself on the 100th episode of 30 Rock. Alarmed that Tracy Jordan is making a return to television, he calls George Clooney with an actor emergency. “Tracy Jordan’s doing TV again…take him off the official A-list.” There’s just one problem. “I don’t have the password. Pitt’s our webmaster.” Crisis settled, he returns to crocheting while softly singing Billy Joel’s “My Life.” In our dreams, 100 percent of this is real.
Kiss cams are loathsome voyeuristic torture devices, as anyone who reaped some sort of unholy karma and has been caught on one can attest to. Forgivably, most A-listers demure when the cam’s operators obnoxiously seek them out and put them on the Jumbotron during sports events. But not Hanks. The Casanova, at an LA Kings game with wife Rita Wilson, becomes positively giddy and relishes the chance to play tonsil hockey with his boo in full public view.
Appearing on Spanish-language Univision’s morning program Despierta America, Hanks crashed the weather report, perked up to the jaunty background music, and cha-cha’d his way right across that multi-colored map of the U.S. and into our hearts forever.