On Sunday, the actor was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with the award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” After a moving montage of his film and television appearances, Hanks gave his wife, Rita Wilson, a tender kiss and went up to accept the award.
“I have a cold the size of Merv Griffin’s ‘Jeopardy!’ royalties,” said Hanks at the start of his speech, before tearing up to thank his wife and children for their love and support.
As his powerful speech continued, Hanks celebrated the directors, fellow actors, and film crews he’s worked with over the years. He went on to talk about the lessons he learned as a young actor.
“Showing up on time is one of the greatest and most liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie,” said Hanks, before saying that as an actor it’s your job to “go there.”
Hanks broke through to the masses with his turn as a teenager who suddenly wakes up one day as an adult in “Big” in 1988. In the decades since, we’ve cried alongside him in films like “Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away,” fell in love with Meg Ryan with him three times over in “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Joe Versus the Volcano,” and even been entranced by him as a cartoon cowboy in “Toy Story.”
He’s given us memorable lines like, “Houston, we have a problem,” “There’s no crying in baseball!” and “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” And at 63, he’s not showing signs of stopping anytime soon.
Most recently, the actor starred as beloved children’s television show host Fred Rogers in the 2019 film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Hanks follows in the footsteps of Oprah Winfrey, who received the award in 2018, becoming the first African-American woman to receive the honor.
“For more than three decades, he’s captivated audiences with rich and playful characters that we’ve grown to love and admire,” said HFPA president Lorenzo Soria in a statement on the announcement that Hanks would be honored. “As compelling as he is on the silver screen, he’s equally so behind the camera as a writer, producer and director.”