“There’s a darkness on the edge of town here, folks,” he said. “Let’s not confuse the fact. It’s killing people. … You can say, ‘Well, traffic accidents kill a lot of people too.’ But traffic accidents happen because a lot of drivers aren’t doing their part. They’re not using their turn signals. They’re driving too fast, they’re not paying attention.”
Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-March, a stunning development that drove home the ubiquity and seriousness of the disease. While the couple recovered and don’t have lingering effects, Hanks said the state of affairs in the U.S. is not encouraging, though he did not go after individual political leaders or institutions. Rather, he described the letdown as societal.
“The idea of doing one’s part should be so simple,” he said. “It’s such a small thing. … It’s a mystery to me how somehow that has been wiped out of what should be ingrained in us all.”
The actor, who turns 64 on Thursday, has been promoting Greyhound, the World War II submarine movie he wrote and stars in, which will premiere Friday on Apple TV+. (Sony, which had initially planned a June release for the film, struck a deal in May to move it to Apple.) Asked about the experience of opening a movie online rather than movie theaters, Hanks winked at Apple as a “benevolent streaming service” but then made a sincere case for streaming. “It’s going to be available. It’s going to be viewable,” he said. “Otherwise, we would have languished in a vault.”
In a print interview with The Guardian that went online Monday (and highlighted again in the introduction to the Today interview), Hanks said political leaders have let the public down. “I must say, I grew up looking to our leaders for calm and informed guidance and I don’t think we’ve got that,” he said.
More interesting to those in the entertainment business were Hanks’ comments about the lack of a theatrical release for Greyhound. He called it “an absolute heartbreak,” arguing “there is a difference in picture and sound quality,” comments he acknowledged could make his “overlords” at Apple upset. On Today, Hanks took a notably different tack, noting the “magnificent deal” for consumers in the $5 price of Apple TV+. “We’re going to be able to fill up the screens and the living rooms and the beanbag chairs of the world, all in one fell shot. We feel as though we were rescued at sea by a convoy with a big apple logo with a bite taken out of it.”
The 1942 period depicted in the film offers lessons for today, Hanks said on Today. “There was a sensibility then that permeated society, which was: ‘Do your part,'” Hanks said. “There was a tiny bit of stuff that you could do to aid the effort.” During the war, “They didn’t know when it was going to come to an end, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19.”
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