Tom Hanks: There are some people who go into this business for power

Photographed by Austin Hargrave_TOM-HANKS_0928_1

I am a pretty big fan of Tom Hanks. I’m usually entertained by his films and interviews. With that qualified, his recent responses about how rampant sexual harassment is in Hollywood are not among my favorite. Tom was interviewed for an Actor Roundtable by The Hollywood Reporter. The Roundtable was conducted with Tom, Gary Oldman, James Franco, John Boyega, Sam Rockwell and Willem Dafoe. Going by the article they linked online, Tom was the only one asked about sexual harassment. I am including his full answers here because when I read a few pulled quotes, they got me very angry but in context of his total comment, it’s still not great but it’s better.

Tom, you said you’re drawn to certain themes. One theme hasn’t been explored in film for a while: sexual harassment. Have all the allegations about sexual predators in Hollywood surprised you?
No, no, no. Because, look, there’s a lot of reasons people do this for a living. Making a movie is a life experience that can create an awful lot of joy. You can meet the person you fall in love with, you can laugh your heads off. That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff can happen on a movie as well. There are some people who go into this business because they get off on having power. And the times they feel the most powerful, which is why they went into the business, are when they are hitting on somebody who’s underneath them, [and] I don’t necessarily mean completely sexually. There are predators absolutely everywhere.

Have you ever seen anything like that happen and taken action?
HANKS How do I put this? We produced a project in which someone said, “There is an element of harassment that’s going on here.” And as soon as we heard, you’ve got to jump right in. You talk to every one of the guilds and find out what happened and you go there immediately. The difference is, there’s stuff that happens on a set that can be really inappropriate, and there can be that type of predatory aspect on a set because you think, “Well, we’re in the circus and we’re on the road, so therefore the rules don’t really apply.” The other aspect is, “Come try to get this job from me. You want me to give you a job? Come prove to me that you want this job.” That’s a sin and that’s against the law and that is a degree of harassment and predatory behavior that goes against an assumed code of ethics. I think eventually everybody who has a production office is going to have a code of ethics and behavior. If you don’t follow these, you will not work here. And that’s not necessarily going to be a bad thing. Somebody said, “Is it too late to change things?” No, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to learn new behaviors. And that’s a responsibility of anybody who wants to obey a code of professional ethics.

[From THR]

So, Tom was faced with a harassment situation and he and others acted on it. And it sounds like they acted on it completely. That is very important to remember when reading the rest of his comments. I get the impression he was not surprised because he’s known enough about what was going on to expect it to happen, which has its own problems.

I know Tom’s thing is to play the nation’s dad and tell us we are all going to come out of this stronger and better but I don’t think that’s we’ve come to that place yet. Many have just found their voice, let them use it. His point about the pros and cons of making a movie shows a lack of understanding of how serious this is. In that last part where he said, “It’s never too late to learn new behaviors,” is he talking about the entire industry or is he discussing the perpetrators? They are predators with countless victims and countless enablers. Maybe the people around them can stop covering up and making excuses, but Tom does not acknowledge the villains in this situation.

And why was Tom the only one given this question?

Photographed by Emily Berl_111117THR_OscarActorRoundtableBTS0586

Photographed by Austin Hargrave_GROUP_0706


Photo credit: The Hollywood Reporter and WENN Photos

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18 Responses to “Tom Hanks: There are some people who go into this business for power”

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  1. Margo S. says:

    First of all, wow, what a white round table. Second, I get what tomorrow is saying. I do agree that more men at the round table should have talked about it. I just bet their reps told them not to. We all know that these dudes have seen sketchy behavior and turned the other way.

    • i, pet goat 2 says:

      Yup. And honestly? That last picture in black and white makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

      • third ginger says:

        If this is supposed to be ,and they often are at this time of year, a potential Oscar nominee roundtable, where are Daniel Kaluuya and Chadwick Bozeman? Those actors are also in Oscar worthy films. Why did they ask Hanks? Because Oldman is obviously problematic, and Franco, Defoe, and Rockwell are known “wild cards” who might say God knows what.

      • i, pet goat 2 says:

        Absolutely! Especially angry that Daniel isn’t in there.

  2. PPP says:

    I like his response generalizing the problem from sexual harassment. Because he’s right that the problem is a power structure such that the people at the top can get away with all kinds of bullying behavior, while the people at the bottom have no recourse. This is true across all the workplaces in the world. We accept that we’re supposed to hate our jobs. We accept that we go to work and are treated like trash because our livelihoods are at stake. What this looks like for women is harassment.

    This is why I am annoyed that people treat this as a cultural shift in attitudes that needs to happen. I mean, sure, to an extent. But at base it is a structure problem. Every workplace, globally, is a steep hierarchy. The more small businesses get pushed out of the way by market forces, the truer this is. The only real solution is to re-fang our laws on the issues of monopolies with anti-trust laws, fight laws that treat corporations like people, and democratize the workplace.

  3. Crystal says:

    Yeah, still don’t like him since he was caught going “Oh poor Weinstein” and nothing he says here changes my mind. Anyone who has pity for that monster is complicit and I fully suspect the “it’s never too late to learn new behaviors” is very much a reference to these predators/a signal he will welcome them back.

    • Mina says:

      When did he go ‘poor Weinstein’? He’s one of the people that insisted he should be out of the Academy, along with Steven Spielberg. Also said there’s no way back for him. I find it hard to believe he defended him at some point.

  4. Mina says:

    He’s asked about it because he’s in the Board of Governors of the Academy, the people that decided Harvey Weinstein should be expelled. They should ask everyone, of course, but among them, Hanks is really the only one in a position of power as high as Weinstein’s was.

  5. Jayna says:

    I see no problem with what he said.

    • ichsi says:

      Me neither. I read the last bit as directed at the whole industry and this is actually one of the better reaction by male stars. He’s skirting around the issue a bit, but he’s hinting/explaining that men like Harvey hold a lot of power over men too, not necessarily sexual but abusive too. I’m far from going “poor men” here, but it’s an enlightening aspect to keep in mind when thinking about these power structures.

  6. Jigli says:

    Bugger off, Tom. He cheated on his first wife (with Rita Wilson), with everything a betrayal involves – lying, gaslighting, revisionism of marriage, happy posing with his mistress … The ex wife later died of cancer, and while she was still sick, Tom and his new wife Rita condescendingly publicly offered financial aid – image management. But it all happened before Internet, so it’s forgotten, and Tom managed to keep his all-American good guy image. Not uncommon among cheaters, they’re all about image management. Rita Wilson recently released an album, which, surprise surprise, treats – their mutual cheating. They got stuck with each other, but everyone bought into their fable about their perfect long-term marriage.

    I’m taking no discussion on harassment from someone who so callously traumatized and gaslighted his first wife, and then had no problem posing as a good guy for decades. Quite sure the stress contributed to her disease. Imagine being treated horrendously by someone who is adored as the ultimate good guy by masses, and what that would do to your head.

    • Mina says:

      You must be so close to Tom’s ex wife (who you don’t even name) to know all this for sure, right? Or maybe you’re projecting? Where did you get all this gaslightning from? You can’t even say for sure he cheated, although that’s quite possible. I’m not excusing cheating, but he married at 21, got thrown into a very weird life and it’s not surprising his first marriage didn’t work. I’ve seen some unsourced articles online about some nasty divorce procedures which is pretty normal, especially when money is involved. Since then he’s stayed married to one woman, stayed away from scandals, made the quality of Hollywood better in front of behind the screen and helps so many people you won’t ever hear about. Please, not every woman that goes through a divorce is left terribly traumatized to the point of getting cancer, this is the most unsabstianted comment I’ve ever read in this blog.

      • Scarlett says:

        HaHa, projecting! The word of the year for shutting someone down.

      • Jigli says:

        Oh please, just google it, it’s all there. Just little known. None of us are friends with these people, and neither are you Tom’s. He was also abusive to her, but then cheating aways involves gaslighting and abuse.

        To quote Samantha Lewes, the “first wife” herself:
        “In contrast to Hanks’ nice-guy 90s image, Samantha told Los Angeles Superior Court: “My husband has repeatedly verbally abused and humiliated me during the past 90 days in my home. This has caused me great emotional stress.”

  7. perplexed says:

    I thought he was just pointing out the reality of how this kind of stuff happens in the specific industry that is Hollywood. I didn’t think he said anything that could be construed as pro-sexual harrassment.

    I also thought he was talking about the industry adopting new behaviours because in the next sentence he talks about having the responsibility to adopt a code of ethics.

  8. Emilymoon says:

    Ug cant stand the level of self-mastubatory posturing these round tables produce, grosses me out. Really have no tolerance of a group of almost all white men talking about harassment with their smug faces, they are so in love with themselves.

    Hanks bothers me for some reason and his quotes about harassment reinforce that he really does not give a shit or truly understand what has happened to women in the industry.

    Also side note: Here’s a secret many people do not know, Gary Oldman put Uma Thurman in the hospital in 1992, he beat her up in a drunken rage and she never saw him or spoke his name again. Wonder if he is worried at all?

  9. Apple cinnamon says:

    I like him as an actor too. Enjoyed Hologram for the King, Sully, and Bridge of Spies. Recently caught Charlie Wilson again. He’s more diverse an actor than ppl give him credit for.

  10. anne says:

    maybe even you TOM HANKS