As careers go, any actor would surely like to trade filmographies with the two-time Oscar award winner Tom Hanks, the star of such classic movies as Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. Having collaborated with such filmmakers as Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Paul Greengrass, and Wes Anderson, among others, Hanks is well known as one of America’s greatest-ever industry stars.
Making his screen debut back in 1980 with the release of the horror flick He Knows You’re Alone, Hanks has gone from strength to strength ever since, making his first significant starring role in the Penny Marshall coming-of-age comedy Big in 1988. Making his way in the industry one year later, he further impressed in the Joe Dante movie The Burbs before taking yet another charming role in Turner & Hooch.
Starting to gain the critical and commercial acclaim he deserved, Hanks took the obvious decision to collaborate with the celebrated American filmmaker Brian De Palma on the 1990 movie The Bonfire of the Vanities. Co-starring Bruce Willis, Kim Cattrall and Morgan Freeman, the film was adapted from the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe and told the story of a Wall Street banker whose life begins to unravel following a murder.
Whilst it appeared to be a sure-fire hit, De Palma’s film instead bombed both critically and financially, making just $15.6million from a budget of $47m. Instead of Academy Awards, The Bonfire of the Vanities received five Razzie nominations, including nods for ‘Worst Picture’, ‘Worst Director’ and ‘Worst Screenplay’, making it one of Hanks and De Palma’s worst-ever movies.
Speaking about the disaster in an interview with The Blast, Hanks stated: “When we were making it, that movie was huge. We couldn’t make a move anywhere in New York City. Everybody was talking about it. Everybody was miscast, me particularly…Brian De Palma deals with iconography more than filmmaking. He is the most uncompromising filmmaker — both in a good way and a bad way — that you’ll ever come across. This is the guy who made Scarface. So his take on it was just one of those things”.
The bestselling book was bought by Warner Bros for $750,000 in the hopes that it would become a major awards contender, especially considering the names that were brought on board. Yet, the production was plagued with issues, no less the casting choices, with an endless cycle of stars being considered for roles, including Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Steve Martin.
“You can’t take a book like Tom Wolfe’s that has changed the way people talk and think and change it into a palatable movie,” Hanks further added, “Or alter the thrust of what the source material is talking about. It may not translate in a way that is going to work”.
Take a look at the trailer for the movie below and watch the entire two-hour-long film at your peril.
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Tom Hanks names his biggest career regret