Tom Hanks Will Deliver Vassar Commencement Address
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (May 9, 2005) — Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, who has gained further acclaim behind the camera, will deliver the address at the 141st Vassar College commencement exercises, to be held on Sunday, May 22, 2005 at 10:00 a.m.
Twice the Oscar winner for an actor in a leading role, Hanks was the first person in nearly six decades to win that prize in successive years, for his performances in Philadelphia (2003) and Forrest Gump (2004). He was also a leading role nominee for the films Big, Saving Private Ryan, and Castaway, and is frequently compared to James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and the other leading men of Hollywood's Golden Era.
Hanks, 48, has already received an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award (2002), and his numerous best actor honors include two Golden Globes, as well as awards from the Screen Actors Guild, Berlin Film Festival, National Board of Review, and Hollywood Women's Press Club.
When he spoke at Vassar in 2003 to help celebrate the inaugural year of the $25 million Center for Drama and Film, Hanks emphasized the value of the liberal arts, both for people interested in acting and film, and more broadly. "There's nothing more boring than somebody who only knows movies and only talks about movies," he remarked. "All of your work, in any field, is going to be impacted by your grand scheme of knowledge."
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Hanks was fascinated by theater and cinema from an early age. He attended California State University in Sacramento as a theater major, before interning at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, where his performance in Two Gentleman of Verona earned him the Cleveland Critics Award for Best Actor.
While dramatic roles have earned Hanks his two Oscars, and four of his five Academy Award nominations, his comedies gained him early attention and continue to showcase his versatile talent. These films, which have endeared him to audiences and reviewers alike, include the mermaid tale Splash, his co-starring turns with Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, and the animated Toy Story movies (which feature Hanks's voice).
In 1996, Hanks made his feature film writing and directing debut with That Thing You Do!, a box-office and critical success in which he also starred, and which produced a top-ten single. On the heels of playing astronaut Jim Lovell in the film Apollo 13, and inspired by his passion for the U.S. space program, Hanks then developed the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
In this ambitious 12-hour project on the Apollo space program, Hanks served as executive producer, host, segment writer, and director, and acted in the series as well. With Steven Spielberg as co-executive producer, he went on to chronicle a World War II rifle company in the special HBO series Band of Brothers, based upon the Stephen Ambrose book, once again earning both Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Later, with his wife, the actress Rita Wilson, and partner Gary Goetzman, he co-produced the blockbuster romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Tom Hanks has also starred in the films The Terminal, The Green Mile, The Road to Perdition, Catch Me If You Can, The Ladykillers, A League of Their Own, and Punch Line. Opening late in 2004, he was seen playing five roles in the film adaptation of the beloved children's book The Polar Express, for which he was also executive producer. In the upcoming adaptation of the bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code, he will play the famed symbologist Robert Langdon
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.
Vassar Commencement Information