Tom Hanks — The King of Modern Hollywood
When people think of great actors, one of the first names mentioned is Tom Hanks. He stars in arguably more recognizable and classic films than any other actor. Even to the uncultured moviegoer, props like Wilson the Volleyball or quotes like “Houston, we have a problem” are known and loved. Additionally, many of Hanks’ films end up winning Academy Awards, like Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, and Philadelphia.
However, that’s not the only reason people love him. Hanks has a lovable demeanor that endears him to audiences. His childlike performance in Forrest Gump or his sympathetic character in The Green Mile moves you to tears. He has that distinctive, high-pitched voice that everyone can instantly recognize. Personally, when I hear Mr. Hanks, the first thing I think of is Woody.
Off-screen he is a genuinely caring person as well. Many who have met him report him to be a kindhearted family man. This is apparent in his selfies with newly-married couples and his 28-year marriage to Rita Wilson (an unusual feat in Hollywood). He is the ultimate role model for millions of Americans.
James Stewart — The King of Golden Age Hollywood
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, James Stewart was that same genuine actor that audiences loved, much like Tom Hanks. Everybody went out to see movies like Vertigo, Rear Window, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He was nominated for an Academy Award five times and won once in 1941 (The Philadelphia Story). His movies are still critically acclaimed today.
People loved to imitate his stuttering, drawling voice and admired him for his military service. He had a lovable demeanor, a distinctive voice, and was a genuine human being. The stories he told and the little cowboy ditties he sang were endearing trademarks of his person. He was also a family man with four children and wife of 44 years. He was one of the most well-loved actors of the century.
Both stars have similar film careers. They’ve both starred in numerous movies covering a wide range of genres. James Stewart went from comedy in You Can’t Take It With You to biopic in Spirit of St. Louis to almost an anti-hero in Vertigo. Likewise, Tom Hanks started with comedies like Big, starred as almost an anti-hero in Road to Perdition, then starred in biopics like Sully.
Both actors were also prominent guests on variety shows such as SNL and The Dean Martin Show. Audiences loved them for their easy sense of humor and entertaining anecdotes. Who could forget Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a very blunt white man on Black Jeopardy or James Stewart at the beauty parlor with Dean Martin and Orson Welles? Because of their appeal, audiences clamored for their regular appearances on these shows.
Both continued acting in their old age. Stewart was in his 80s before he finally quit acting. Meanwhile, Hanks is 61 years-old with no signs of slowing down, recently starring in The Circle, a thrilling corporate sci-fi and The Post, a drama detailing the true events of the Pentagon Papers and The Washington Post.
Both often end up in rankings of the top-10 best actors. Their names are recognized and praised by critics and moviegoers the world over. Additionally, their movies often end up among top-10 rankings (such as Saving Private Ryan or Vertigo) as well. Both actors tend to wow critics, even years after the release of their movies.
On the Same Level
Tom Hanks and James Stewart share the highest tier in Hollywood. They both have a strong presence on and off screen, endearing themselves to audiences with their distinctive voices on screen and their undisputed kindness off the screen. They both have starred in many different genres and hold an enviable level of prestige in their careers of which most actors only dream.
Indeed, history repeats itself, showing us that good actors never really die–there will always be another prodigy to carry on the legacy.
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