Who is the 'Next Tom Hanks'?


Image Credit: Everett Collection

Some of the analysis of Larry Crowne‘s disappointing opening-weekend box-office performance reads like obituaries. “Are America and Tom Hanks Out of Step?” asked the Los Angeles Times. “Why Won’t Tom Hanks Just Stop Already?” whined Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Crowne grossed only $13.1 million over the three-day weekend, an unimpressive but hardly a surprising result. (His last film with Julia Roberts, 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War, grossed only $9.7 million in its opening frame.)

Stars simply aren’t what they used to be — ask anyone except Will Smith — and Hanks, at 54, can’t compete with his own resume of success that includes two Oscars and 17 films that topped more than $100 million. Not everyone is Clint Eastwood. But for the first time, perhaps, there’s finally an opening for “The Next Tom Hanks.” For years, there have been whispers of such an actor, but evidence has proven as elusive as the Yeti. Just ask Tom Everett Scott and Topher Grace. Shia LaBeouf has long been mentioned as an heir apparent, though given his more action-packed resume of late, he now seems more inclined to become the 1990’s other big Tom: Cruise.

So who is poised to fill Hanks’ shoes as The Genial Everyman with comic credentials and dramatic chops? Last week, Horrible Bosses‘ Lindsay Sloane called her co-star Jason Sudeikis an “early career Tom Hanks,” and the Saturday Night Live star does have the handsome but not threatening good looks and quick wit that Hanks is famous for. Or course, Sudeikis would kill for a starring role in a movie that opens at $13.1 million — though Horrible Bosses seems destined to smash that figure. His co-star, Jason Bateman, is another guy who shares some of Hanks’ on-screen DNA, and next month’s The Change-Up, which also co-stars another Hanks-in-waiting, Ryan Reynolds, feels like the type of movie Hanks would’ve killed in during the late 1980s.

I’m perfectly fine with saying there’s never going to be another Tom Hanks. He’s a national treasure, and he still has a slate of interesting projects on the way, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Cloud Atlas. But someone has to fill the void that once belonged to him, the reliable, likable thirtysomething guy-next-door whose name above the marquee means something. Does anyone have a prayer of filling those shoes?

Who do you see as the Next Tom Hanks?

Read more:
EW review: ‘Larry Crowne’
Tom Hanks finds his groove on Univision
Tom Hanks endorses The Onion for Pulitzer Prize

Comments (191 total) Add your comment
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  • Kate

    You forgot to mention Shia’s mouth will keep him from being the next Tom Hanks. Tom has talent, humor, everyman likeability and class.

    • SaraS

      If Saving Private Ryan or Forrest Gump had come out last weekend, they both would’ve done just as well.
      The problem isn’t Tom or Julia — nobody wants to pay $11 per person to see a predictable romantic comedy anymore. These just do not open big, no matter who (Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston) is behind them.

      • what!

        the fact of the matter is that 50 years from now, people will remember Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise because they starred in multiple quality movies. There are no other movie stars in Hollywood, just media hyped “stars”

      • Adwina Lambert

        One of the most over-rated, over-exposed celebrities in showbiz!! the male version of the irritating celeb also – Julia Roberts!! the cinematical equivalent of the equally over-rated and overexposed Justin Timberlake and Beyonsh*t!! tee-hee!

      • Mac

        I agree with you SaraS – if you watched the trailer for Larry Crowne, you knew exactly how the movie would turn out, from beginning to end. I think people will pay for a GOOD romantic comedy, someone just needs to write an intelligent script. There are so few women screenwriters nowadays, it’s no wonder traditional “chick flicks” (melodramas, romantic comedies) fall flat. At least I think that contributes to it.

    • LOL

      Americalovescrapfastfivewasgreat. Umm, I think it has been Matt Damon for some time now—he’s probably the most versatile actor in Hollywood. But you know it will end up being someone awful like Ryan Reynolds.

      • daisy

        I am a bit shocked and disgusted, but
        I actually agree with you. Well, not about that steaming turd Fast Five, but about Matt Damon. He has played comedy, drama, and action all equally well. He is good looking but not too pretty, and he seems like an all around nice guy. Ryan Reynolds is too pretty to be the next average joe

      • amelia in portland

        …plus, Ryan Reynolds is just not funny. I’m a Hanks fan all the way but no way would I pay more for a movie that I can watch on Netflix later on down the line.

      • snazzy

        For an all around American guy, Matt Damon who can do action, drama, and surprisingly, comedy very well. He is not beautiful but handsome like the guy next door.

      • Shannon

        Have you seen Matt Damon in some interviews? He can be an arrogant doucheboat whereas Hanks comes across as kind.

    • Rosalie

      Tom Hanks has talent, the apparent heirs don’t! Why did you fail to mention Julia Roberts, this movie is as much her flop as is Tom’s. Anyhow, there is no such thing as movie stars anymore. The special effects take front and center stage. Now movies are about how much they cost to make and how much they make at the box office. Hardly ever do you watch a good story on the big screen. This year, I think X-men and Bridesmaids have both managed that feat. Good movies and good acting, although X-men does have special effects. Besides 13.1 mil for a movie that cost 30 mil to make is not a bad start.

      • JP

        Tom also directed the movie and I believe co-wrote it. So, it’s not as much Julia’s flop as Tom’s. Just saying.

      • LD

        I’d blame Julia b’c she is the same in every movie she makes. She got “lucky” with her awards (who was she sleeping with?)In every movie they have to find somewhere for her big mouth to laugh so loud (just like Pretty Woman receiving the necklace from Richard) It is so annoying and predictable. I love almost all Tom’s movies but Julia,.. I can only tolerate a few.

      • Solange

        @LD I agree! I think Julia is just lucky, she’s not a great actress, she’s okay. I still love Tom Hanks though!

      • Kat

        Re: Julia’s limitations and ubiquity of her laugh…have you seen Conspiracy Theory? It’s an odd little movie (though it does co-star Mel Gibson as a somewhat crazy guy, which of course he’s always done well), but I really love it, and Julia Roberts actually has something of a different character in it. A much quieter, more intense character, and I think she does it well. Then again, I’ve always liked Julia Roberts so there could certainly be some bias in there.

      • Mac

        Gimme a break. Julia Roberts has some good roles under her belt (Pretty Woman, Erin Brackovich, Steel Magnolias, My Best Friend’s Wedding), it just seems to me that she coasted way too long after winning her Oscar. Now she is struggling to earn some of her cred back. But she does have it in her to knock it out of the ballpark. She just needs to put in the effort.

    • LOL

      Vin Diesel would also be a good choice. He’s very versatile.

      • LL

        Totally! I’m beyond surprised XXX didn’t get nominated for an Oscar!

    • Wickeddoll

      I can’t STAND Shia LeBouf. I have no idea of what he’s like in person, of course, but he just oozes annoying twit in everything I’ve seen him try. He was the worst thing about the already bad “Crystal Skull” and stank up “I, Robot” no end.

      • PennyBeGood

        LeBouf has done some good work. I don’t think he has universal appeal, though, and I’ve never been able to see him as a leading actor.

    • Joey

      This article and a lot of these comments are not talking about an everyman (a Jimmy Stewart/Tom Hanks for the next generation). It just list some facejocks and lame action movie dudes. The best choices I’ve read so far:
      1. Joseph Gordon Levitt
      2. Ryan Gosling
      3. Jason Seigal
      4. Maybe James Franco

      My personal choice as the new “everyman”-JESSE EISENBERG

      And for that matter, check out Zombieland. Very underrated, and Emma Stone could be the next Julia Roberts-except better at the whole acting thing.

      Saying names like DiCaprio and Damon is moot because 1. They’re already famous, and 2. It’s not for being an “everyman”-moreso for having aritistic, Brando-like depth

      • Cashby

        Well stated. I’m going to throw in another name: Andrew Garfield. He was great in both the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and the Social Network. I think the new Spiderman reboot is going to push him over the edge.

      • Mac

        I think Joseph Gordon Levitt is the best of your four choices. He has comedic chops (3rd Rock) as well as drama. He just needs to proceed carefully, and if he so chooses, I think he could be a big star.

      • Jeannie

        I agree with your suggestions of Joseph Gordon Levitt and Jason Segel, they both have that same, likeable, “everyman” short of charm to them that is reminiscent of Tom Hanks. Although Levitt is more edgy and dramatic, and Segel is on the more slapstick end of the Tom Hanks spectrum.

    • Dave

      It drives me insane any time I hear someone proclaim Shia LaBeouf as the next Tom Hanks (yes, I’m talking to you, Steven Spielberg). Shia LaDouche doesn’t have an ounce of the talent and charisma that Tom Hanks has.

    • Cygnus

      Jason Segal should be the next Hanks. He’s more talented all-around musically, puppets, writing, and he has that boy next door appeal. Loved him Sarah Marshall, I Love You Man, and Freaks & Geeks.

  • markinnyc

    none of the actors mentioned have the comic ability of Tom Hanks. They may have a comic personality, but that is not ability. Look at Tom Hanks in his early movies, Bachelor Party, or the Money Pit. Most of the laughs in those films come from him turning a phrase, or doing something that was not in the script. That is ability.
    I think the closest thing we have to Tom Hanks would be someone like Paul Rudd….even that is a stretch though.

    • Taylor

      Or Bosom Buddies! Awe, good times Tom. Good times.

      • L


  • jon

    John Krasinski

    • atown

      Yes! I never thought of that but he is totally perfect! I was going to say Zachary Levi from Chuck

      • Marianne

        I totally agree with Zach Levi! Give him a couple of headlining roles in films and he has the likeability, charm and talent to pull it off.

      • Brian1

        Agree with both John Krasinski and Zach Levi!

      • Brian1

        Also, Nathan Fillion.

      • G

        LOVE Zach Levi. He can pull off that same manic energy Tom Hanks had in his earlier movies without being annoying and is charming without being smug.

      • Michelle

        I was just reading all the posts thinking about who is Hanks-like and these two, John Krasinski and Zach Levi are great choices. Never watched The Office much (preferred the BBC version) but I’ve seen John in interviews and he is so funny without trying. But Zach! I watch Chuck just for him. He’s sweet, nerdy, unassuming, funny, and tries too hard to be “normal” but never gets there which I think is great because it shows his vulnerability. He also has a very nice voice (Tangled). I was amazed that was him. I think Zach Levi will be the NEW Zach Levi. There will never be another James Stewart, or Tom Hanks.

    • 1humbleopinion

      Nailed it!

  • Tom

    Tom Hanks is the new Robert De Niro, who is the new Jack Nicholson… simply phoning in their post-Oscar win stock performances.

    • Tim

      Yeah, he really phoned it in during Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan (Oscar nomination), Castaway (Oscar nomination – probably should have won), the Green Mile, Road to Perdition and Catch Me If You Can. Hanks has made some very underwhelming films post-Oscar, especially in the past few years, but he never phones it in acting wise.

      • Tom

        Bozo… he’s the NEW De Niro. He NOW phones it in. Do I have to get your mommy to come by and force you to actually read things instead of reacting to them?

      • Gretchen

        Dude, you said their “post-Oscar win stock performances.” Tim listed some of Hanks’ post-Oscar performances. Thus, he did read your post right. It’s not his fault that you inserted your foot in your mouth, he was just calling you out on it.

    • Gretchen

      He directed this movie, wrote it and starred in it. I would hardly call that “phoning it in.”

      • Tom

        His recent performances are so far below his best work that I call it “phoning it in”. He just shows up, like on morning talk shows, and gets W-A-C-K-Y!

      • Gretchen

        Examples? And as far as his appearances on talk shows being “wacky,” that’s WHO HE IS!! He’s a fun, happy-go-lucky person and it exudes his being. If you don’t get that, I feel sorry for you.

      • Dom

        I agree with Gretchen. He maybe be wacky on talk shows, but it’s all in good fun. Everytime he is on Conan, where he lets loose and does silly things, it just proves who likable he is. He doesn’t take himself as a movie star seriously at all. That’s why everyone loves him and calls him the “everyman” movie star.

      • Ian

        The wackiness, as you call it, never comes off as forced or unnatural for him. It’s his nature, and his impressive comic resume. Just like his ability to slip right in perfectly when hosting SNL. As for the next Hanks, I’d have to cote for Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco. They both have impressive comedic and dramatic chops, are likable, funny, and already have impressive credentials, including Oscar nominations.

  • LOL

    Vin Diesel is the next Tom Hanks. He has the comedic chops, as seen in films like The Pacifer, and he is great in dramas. Plus, he should add an Oscar to his mantel for Fast Five. And then after he wins a second Oscar for the sixth F&F film, he’ll have the same number as Hanks. Though, he is definitely hotter than Hanks. Sooooooo hot. I want to feel his muscles.

    • Regina George

      It’s just not funny anymore, LOL! Give it a rest!

      • LOL

        If you were hit by a bus driven by Vin Diesel, you would have not survived.

      • m1

        LOL is not fetch! He shouldn’t even be here!

      • LOL

        I’m not trying to be funny Regina.

      • Regina George

        I know right!

      • Regina George

        Well you could have fooled me. And the above comment was directed toward m1, not you just so we’re clear.

      • LOL

        Consider yourself fooled then I guess. I wouldn’t be able to respond to m1 because I don’t even know that that means. I’m not fetch? Whatever.

      • CandaceTX

        @LOL “I’m not trying to be funny Regina.”

        well then… success!

    • Steve

      I laughed…

  • Tonks027

    Tom Hanks is one of a kind. There’s no way anyone could follow him. Success in comedy, romantic comedy, drama, war drama, AND animation? I doubt lightning can strike in the same place twice when it comes to what all Hanks has accomplished.

  • tomm

    John Krasinski is just a ‘hipster’, and will be dated when he’s near 40. Too old for ‘cool young guy’ roles.

    Tom Hanks is too old for Julia Roberts and this movie screamed ‘RENT IT’ louder than ‘Eat, Pray. Love’.

    Reality is unless it’s action movie or high quality Oscar bait, movies headlined by 1990’s stars will head straight to Netflix.

    • tomm

      I take that back, Julia is only 9-10 years junior, near average for straight couples.

      Still Julia is forever ‘Pretty Woman’ to many, since that movie is rerun constantly on basic cable. Talk about prostituting.

      • Squee

        I’d say Julia is responsible for the poor opening. Over her.

      • crabby

        Tomm stop with the whole ESL bad grammar. @ least have the courtesy to structure your sentences properly so the rest of us can comprehend what you are saying.

      • topoopon

        I had no problem understanding him. Are you an english teacher? He only had one misspell, and a few missed commas.

  • IHeartPD

    Nathan Fillion. I don’t even watch Castle, but having seen Slither, Firefly, Dr. Horrible and other projects, he has the comedy talent.

  • Jane

    While I would love for Ryan Reynolds to fill his void, this kind of thing is impossible to predict. Remember when Heather Graham, Gretchen Mol and Lindsay Lohan were it girls with huge career potential? Proof that it’s not easy to build a career like Tom did.

    • me

      Ha, I read that as tit girls with huge… career potential.

  • tomm

    Ryan Reynolds can’t do drama. He’s just a smart alecky hot guy. When his looks fade, will he be able to do ‘Brad Pitt’ roles?

    • Brad H

      I have to suggest that you look at the beginning of Tom Hanks’ career. When he did Splash, Bachelor Party, Money Pit, Joe vs. The Volcano, etc.
      Were you thinking… dramatic actor, future Oscar winner?? Ryan Reynolds was good in “Definitely, Maybe”, he was decent in “Smoking Aces”, and he was a very convincing and realistic @$$hole in “Adventureland”.
      I actually agree that he will not be the next Tom Hanks… but I think that it is more about luck/timing and finding amazing roles than talent shown versus Tom Hanks at 35 (1991).

      • Meg

        Finally–someone else who saw Adventureland. I thought I was the only one out there.

      • Brad H

        @Meg: I thought that it was one of the most realistic “romance” movies I have seen in a LONG time.

      • Brian1

        Reynolds was also good as the dramatic lead in Chaos Theory and The Nines. I hear he’s good in Buried too.

    • Mandy

      You have clearly not watched his indie films. The Nines and Chaos Theory are excellent examples or Buried – which is haunting. Or Adventureland, where he makes a complete douchebag into a flawed human being.
      The man can do drama.

  • mariela

    it’s hard to see anyone becoming as universally known and loved as him, either. in this era now it really does seem like stars are fading, because the biggest movies that come out are all franchise movies where the actors don’t matter that much. when was the last really big “movie star” to obtain fame and stardom on the level of either tom hanks or julia roberts? i feel like there hasn’t been anyone for like a decade. maybe johnny depp, but he’d actually been around since the early 90s, he just got huge later.

    • Kevin

      we live in a age where people can anonymously post hatred for actors on just about any entertainment site, hate is infectious and spreads like wildfire. You are right that we will probably never have another Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts, much like we will never have another TV Show like “Friends” or “ER,” because we have grown into a cynical and hateful society, not because the talent isn’t out there.

    • Taylor

      ‘Anyone for like a decade?” Huh??…. Angelina Jolie, Leo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon…

      • JAMES

        Cameron Diaz is a movie star and makes bank doing comedy, drama AND animation.

      • Meg

        Kate Winslet.

      • noam

        you just named actors who all got their big break in the 90s. mariela’s kind of right–in the new millenium, it’s so easy to become a celebrity, it’s become hard to be a star. that, and the fact that with 24 entertainment news and camera phones and whatnot, it’s harder for actors to maintain a private life,which i think aids in the “star factor.” any time you know someone wears sweats and shops at petsmart and gets parking tickets or whatever, it makes it that much harder to get lost in the role that they are playing, lessening the impact. i, for one, like matt damon, but every time i see him, i can’t help but think about his psa for water.org…

    • Meg

      You are eating crazy sandwiches. Sandra Bullock, Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale and Jude Law became huge stars in the past 5 years.

      • Angie

        Sandra became a star in the nineties, a little after Julia did. Remember SPEED, WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING and THE NET? Those three box office hits cemented her as a movie star. The thing is that her clout diminished after a string of flops, and then, following that dry spell, she came back with the one-two-punch of THE PROPOSAL and THE BLIND SIDE. Julia herself had a dry spell in the mid nineties, which ended when RUNAWAY BRIDE and NOTTING HILL became back-to-back hits in 1999.

      • jared4ever

        Uhh at least 10 years ago for ALL of them. You need a new calendar.

      • DUH

        HAHAHA thanks for the laugh.

        sandra bullock – speed, 1994
        rdj – less than zero, 1987
        jude law – talented mr ripley, 1999

        even christian bale has had “baleheads” since newsies in 1992.

  • Jordan

    The two biggest younger type actors in movies today are to me Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. They’ve done the biggest movies and are the stars people trust the most. Even Damon is already 40 but Damon can do comedy and drama. Don’t know if DiCaprio can do comedy but he’s only in his mid 30’s and has done a lot of great stuff already.

  • Meg

    Why does there always have to be “the next (name the actor)”? Can’t we just celebrate the original? Oh. I forgot. We’re the land of sequels.

    • veronica

      I don’t think that’s anything new. Tom Hanks, for example, has often been touted as his generation’s version of Jimmy Stewart. Also, if you’re the same Meg from above, I’m another who saw Adventureland.

  • tomm

    Depp is now just ‘Jack Sparrow’ to fans under 25. He is starting to finally show his age. Will end up playing ‘wacky old guys’ when he’s 55ish, which is not too far away.

    • G

      LOL. This is so true. And I like him.

  • tomm

    To younger fans, the next ‘Big Star’ will be from Reality TV. And who knows if there will be big movie stars with young people into clips on You Tube, Twitter quotes, and snap judgements of pics on the net.

    God forbid they have to sit through a movie without texting, etc!

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