Tom Hanks, known for larger-than-life roles in “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away,” will be the keynote speaker for the second day of the IDDBA Show. Shelby Publishing EVP Bob Reeves, who shares a personal connection with the award-winning actor, was able to interview him ahead of the event. His history with Hanks, along with their conversation, appears below.
Greek actress Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in a one-woman play called, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Rita Wilson convinced her husband, Tom Hanks, to see the play. After running for six weeks in a small theater in Los Angeles, a movie with the same name – with Wilson and Hanks co-producing – was made starring Vardalos. The romantic comedy was a huge success. The story was based on Vardalos’ family in Winnipeg, Canada, and her experience marrying a non-Greek man.
Hanks and I share this experience of non-Greeks marrying into a Greek family. During my senior year of high school, I met and fell in love with a young Greek-American girl named Lily. A few years later, we were married and later had two daughters. The experience was almost exactly like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Hanks also fell in love with a young Greek-American actress named Rita, and also found himself immersed in the family culture and heritage. That is my connection with Hanks, as Rita is Lily’s sister. Yes, it is a “Hollywood story.”
I asked Tom to give me a little background as to how he became a keynote speaker for IDDBA.
What is the subject or theme of your presentation at the IDDBA show? To my knowledge, this is the first time you have been a guest speaker for anything related to the food industry. Is that correct? Can you give me a little preview? Will you be doing more public engagements?
“My understanding is that it is a chance to share stories about my career choices and provide some quality entertainment.”
I remember once you told me that you had wanted to change the spelling of your name for your movie career to Hanx. It seems you have found a way to do that now with a side business, “HANX for our troops.” Tell my audience how the idea came about, what is unique about the coffee and perhaps how much money you have raised in support of our veterans. Is your coffee brand only available online?
“I became involved with Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s Hidden Heroes foundation that aids families of veterans on many fronts and wondered what more I could do beyond her mission statement. Selling coffee seemed like a way, with all the profits going to vetted organizations. CAA found great willing partners who wanted to do the same. Using the ‘X’ for my last name was the fun part of the packaging.”
Now that you have seen how lending your name to these great causes can make a difference in people’s lives, do you plan to go into other categories?
“There are many organizations I support, but the HANX for Our Troops is the focus as per my on-hand involvement.”
What movie projects have you done that we may not yet know about? Starring, directing or producing?
“There will be a movie named ‘Here’ around Christmas – I’m back to working with Bob Zemeckis again, with Robin Wright too.”
It’s been widely publicized that you have Type 2 Diabetes. You have purposely dropped a lot of weight under doctor’s orders, I have read. Can you talk a little about how you have changed your diet, and how you have shed the weight?
“I take the right medications and eat better, live a healthier lifestyle and put in the concentration as I am now 66 years old and want to maintain the temple some. I’m not done just yet.”
To full the IDDBA main stage line up, click here.