WATCH: The important lesson that smaller roles taught Tom Hanks
WATCH: The important lesson that smaller roles taught Tom Hanks
'You are part of a whole that is greater than just yourself,' says Tom Hanks on his experiences working on smaller roles

MANILA, Philippines – Tom Hanks may be the star of Inferno and indelible films like Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Toy Story, but it wasn’t always like that.

Before he moved to New York City to make it on the big screen, Tom worked as an intern at the Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, where he would build sets, hang lights, and act on stage for their yearly festival.

But those days didn’t go to waste – Tom learned a thing or two from working out of the limelight. This A-list Hollywood actor, also known as one of the industry’s nicest guys, says that smaller parts earlier in his career have actually taught him a lot. 

“In repertory theater, where I first started out, what it taught me was that you have a responsibility to the ensemble, you are part of a whole that is greater than just yourself, and you have to fit into that in the appropriate way,” he told Rappler in an interview for Inferno. (READ: In ‘Inferno,’ Robert Langdon returns: 7 fun facts about the movie)

“And that might be contary to the way some people make movies…,” he continued. “They try to steal focus, but I always felt most secure, and I felt the best part of being an actor is to be in a company of players.”


Inferno director Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham in the series Happy Days among other roles, agreed, saying that teamwork and trust among the crew and the actors is key:

“I always remind the key people behind the camera, the camera operators, the production team, I say, ‘You just have no idea how terrifying it is to be an actor, because you’re entirely vulnerable. You’re putting everything, yourself, out there. And you can’t see yourself, you don’t know, you have to trust the team around you, starting with me, but including you, to help capture that moment, and make them feel as safe and protected as possible.”

Making Inferno, for example, a thriller shot over the course of 56 days, couldn’t have been easy without the help of everyone on the movie’s team.

“A movie like Inferno is physically challenging, it’s demanding on an intellectual level, and yet there’s also a kind of raw vulnerability of this sort of, the gauntlet that these characters are going through,” said Ron. “And so, unlike a lot of action thrillers, it’s very demanding on a performance level as well. So as an actor’s director, I enjoy these movies because they work for the audience, they’re a ride, but they also offer real acting opportunities.”

Inferno, based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name, hit Philippine theaters on October 12.

Though excellent work as an individual contributor is no doubt appreciated at the workplace, being able to work well with, and eventually manage a team, are also highly valued. And doing the work with gusto, no matter how small the task, is a great way to show that you’re committed to the team and company – not just yourself. 

Share your experiences with us in the comments and let us know how working with a big team has shaped your career! –

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