UPDATED with video: Tom Hanks delivered the goods in accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at Sunday’s Golden Globes, beginning with a tearful thanks to his family and going on to extol the craft of acting and filmmaking.
Injecting some class and joie-de-vivre into a ceremony that had seemed to mostly drag in its first two hours, Hanks confessed he was less than his usually peppy self due to having a cold “the size of Merv Griffin’s Jeopardy royalties.” He said he had been quaffing some “savagely orange drinks for the past 24 hours,” bringing on jitters during the ceremony.
After tearing up in the opening moments of the speech as he paid tribute to wife Rita Wilson and his five kids, Hanks had the crowd at the Beverly Hilton rapt as he described his attachment to the day-to-day business of entertainment.
“A movie is made shot by shot,” he said. “At that moment, what is required is that everybody does their job to perfection. They have to hit a mark and they have to go there. Sometimes, the movie rests on the makeup artist who puts on Stellan Skarsgard’s eyebrows [in Chernobyl]. Sometimes, it’s the focus puller, and if he isn’t sharp, you don’t have it and it shows up and you have to do it all over again.” The alchemy of a successful film project is when the cast and crew “put it all together, have faith in what the process is and go there.”
Hanks, who broke out in the late-1970s on TV sitcom Bosom Buddies before moving into a film-centric run over the past four-plus decades, recalled an early career epiphany. In 1977, as an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival (his first official showbiz job), he and some colleagues had arrived at work decidedly less than laser-focused. The head of the festival screamed at them, “‘You guys, you actors, you know what your job is?! You have got to show up on time and you have to know the text and you have a head full of ideas. Otherwise, I can’t do my job,'” Hanks remembered. “That was the greatest lesson a young actor could possibly ever get. First of all, the head full of ideas. Bring anything. Try anything.”
Charlize Theron presented the award to Hanks, who cast her in an early role in (notes having been given one of her first speaking roles in his directing debut, That Thing You Do!
In addition to signature performances in films like Big, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Castaway, the reel that played after Theron’s introduction showcased a frizzy-haired Hanks starring in The Love Boat. He gamely sang part of the Aaron Spelling show’s theme song at the start of his speech, which went on to finish with a stirring nod to De Mille himself. Along with other Golden Age directors in Hollywood, Hanks noted, De Mille would say “cut” at the end of the scene, but would also ask the crew to “check the gate.” If the celluloid film had not passed smoothly through the gate of the camera, the production couldn’t move on to the next scene. “I have checked the gate,” Hanks told the crowd. “And the gate is good.”
Even Ricky Gervais, who turned in another lacerating turn as host of the show (prompting several GIF-worthy reactions by Hanks), could only utter a one-word reaction to the Hanks speech as he tackled the difficult task of following it. “Amazing,” he said.
To watch Hanks’ acceptance speech, click on the video above. For the actor’s comments backstage, take a look at the video below.