Cecil B. Demille Award

  • Cecil B. Demille Award







    AWARD 17




    TOM HANKS:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.


    Thank you.  Thanks, everybody.  Thank you.

    Most of the people in this room, I would pay to see them get their cars washed.  So to be up here ‑‑

    And can I just say honestly, really ‑‑ really ‑‑ can I just ‑‑ tell the truth now.  Can I just see a show of hands?  How many people in this room have a clip package that includes “The Love Boat”?  Anybody?  Well, you ‑‑ Charlize?  No?  Well, you missed out.

    There you go.  Kathy.  There you go.  And what do we have?  Love, exciting and new.  Climb aboard.

    I have a cold the size of Merv Griffin’s “Jeopardy” royalties, so forgive me.  I’ve been drinking an awful lot of savagely orange drinks for the last 24 hours and I’m a little jittery.

    A man is ‑‑ sorry.

    I man is blessed ‑‑ a man is blessed with a family sitting down front like that.  A wife who is fantastic in every way, who has taught me what love is.  Five kids who are braver and stronger and wiser than their old man is.  And a loving group of people who have put up with me being away months and months and months at a time.  Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t standing here if they didn’t have to put up with that.  So I can’t tell you how much your love means to me.


    So that’s the wife and kids.

    You know, you’re a dope if you don’t steal from everybody you’ve ever worked with.  And I have stolen from the likes of the people that only need one name, you know, like Meryl, like Denzel, like Antonio, like Meg, like Julia, like Sally Field.  Even though that’s two names, it’s still one.  But I have also been made better by watching the examples of some of the greatest actors that have ever walked the stage, Peter Scolari and Holland Taylor a million years ago, Robin Wright.  Barkhad Abdi, believe it or not who was in his very first film, who was so very much in artist.  There was no doubt about it.  And Charlize, who actually is one of those one‑word names.

    The reason I had to leave the room ‑‑ the reason I had to leave the room for five minutes was to go in and tell the other producers that this woman that I’m auditioning right now is going to be in this movie somehow, so we’ve got to figure it out somehow.  So we’ve got to figure out how it’s going to work.  And she was.

    I have never not been challenged or flummoxed or lost sleep because of the work that was asked of me by the directors that I’ve worked with, every single one of them, the screenwriters I’ve worked with, every single one of them.  And there’s been Nora and Penny, Marie of late.  There’s Steven* and Ron, Paul, Bob.  The list goes on.  And Clint.  The list goes on and on.  And every one of those ‑‑ every one of those guys at some point or another came up to me in the course of a day and said, “Tomorrow, if you don’t do your job really well, we don’t have a movie.”

    And this is a thing that happens with actors at some point.  On a movie, a movie is made shot by shot.  Everybody knows that. Line Wetmuller knows it.  Marty Scorsese knows it.  Jackie Chan knows a movie is made shot by shot.  And at that moment, what is required is everybody has to do their job to their perfection.  And they have to hit a Mark and they have to go there.

    Sometimes the movie rests on the shoulders of the makeup artist who put on Stellan Skarsgård’s eyebrows.  Sometimes it’s the focus puller that if it isn’t sharp, you don’t have it and it shows up and you have to do it all over again.  But it’s those moments as an actor where everybody I have ever worked with has helped me get to that place.  Sometimes it’s 3:00 o’clock in the morning, and sometimes it’s 11:00 ‑‑ 11:00 at night in which you just have to somehow put it all together, have faith in what the process is, and go there.

    A thousand years ago in 1977 when I was an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, my first professional job, we all got yelled at by Dan Sullivan, the director.  We had partied a little bit too much the night before.  We were showing up for rehearsals, and he screamed at us.  Well, he did actually scream at us.  He said, “Hey, look.  You guys, you guys, you actors, you know what your job is?  You know what your job is?  You have got to show up on time and you have to know the text and you have to have a head full of ideas.  Otherwise I can’t do my job.”

    That was the greatest lesson a young actor could possibly ever get.  First of all, the head full of ideas, bring anything, try anything.  They might not use it.  If it stinks, they won’t use it.  Am I right, Marty Scorsese?  If it’s not good, boy, let’s see the outtakes from that movie, by the way.


    Knowing the text ‑‑ and it’s not just your lines.  It’s the whole thing.  It’s the red dot.  It’s the theme of the movie.  You’ve got to know it.  You might not be right in the opinion that you bring to it, but you’ve got to come at it with some direction.

    And as Charlize might know, and some of the other people who’ve worked with us at the Play Tone galaxy of stars, showing up on time is one of the greatest, liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie.


    That means those people with radios in their ears don’t need to knock on your door and say they’re ready for you.  You’re actually already ready and you have the liberty and you have the freedom of being there early enough to settle down, because when the time comes, you have to hit the marks and you have to go there.

    There is a saying in motion pictures back when it was shot on film, that you could not move on to the next scene until the gate was good.  The film went through the little ‑‑

    Let me explain to the kids at home.  The film went through a shutter.  It had to go through the gate and sometimes a piece of film would fall off.  A hair or speck of dust would be there on the negative, and the shot would be ruined because you couldn’t save it in the lab.  The gate had to be good before you could move on.

    Cecil B. DeMille himself, up in that voice of god chair, “All right.  That’s wonderful.  Cut.  Check the gate.”  He’d say something like that, and then they would check the gate.  And if the gate was good, then you moved on.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I’m such ‑‑ it’s the cold that is making this happen.  I swear to God.  I’m not nearly this emotional at home.

    Well, thank you, HFPA.  Thank you all here.  Thank you all for all your inspiration and all of your work and all of the struggle that you guys all go through in order to hit the marks and tell the truth.

    I have checked the gate.  The gate is good.  Thank you.


              TOM HANKS:  Hi, everybody.  Is everybody okay?  First of the
              stations of the cross, guys.  Big one coming your way.  Take your
              Thera-Flu.  Don't get what I had.  I had -- half my household had
              the other flu, you know the one that comes out both ways.  I got
              lucky.  I just have a horrible cold.  All right.  I'm going to
              take four questions.  Number one.
              QUESTION:  From the Greek Reporter, congratulations.
              TOM HANKS:  Thank you very much.
              QUESTION:  And thank you very much about your performances.
              TOM HANKS:  I have questions about my honorary Greek status.
              Number one:  Do I have to serve in the army?
              QUESTION:  Two years ago I asked about how you feel being Greek.
              How do you feel about being a citizen?
              TOM HANKS:  As long as I don't have to serve in the army.  I've
              got bad knees and I'm an old man.  Do I have to pay taxes, or can
              I just pay cash and avoid all that stuff?
              QUESTION:  I don't know about that.
              TOM HANKS:  I'm just curious.  It's a great honor.  I've been
              Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years.
              QUESTION:  How Greece has affected you as an actor?  How you've
              actually taken in this information from Greece?
              TOM HANKS:  Greece has been a haven.  My family goes to Greece.
              I've been around the world.  I've been to the most beautiful
              places in the world, none of them tops Greece.  The land, the
              sky, the water, it's good for the soil.  It's a healing -- it's a
              healing place, particularly if you get into that fabulous,
              fabulous Greek schedule of sleeping until noon, staying up until
              3:00 in the morning, and arguing in a taverna until 3 a.m.  It's
              just the best life one can have.  Thank you.  Thank you.
              Question number two.
              QUESTION:  Congratulations.  Just a short question.
              TOM HANKS:  Wait a minute.  We just heard a groan from the hall.
              What happened?  Do we know?  Yes.  I'm sorry.
              QUESTION:  There's so many movies.  Which one of them is your
              TOM HANKS:  That's impossible to say.  All of them were -- all of
              them were magical.  You have to separate out the experience of
              making the movie and the way it is taken in by the marketplace.
              They do not -- they do not correlate.  I've made -- I made movies
              that were uncomfortable and just fun enough, and they've done
              well.  I've made movies that I loved every second of it, and they
              come out and are -- the audience seems to be perhaps confused by
              them.  I will say this, however.  I have never, ever regretted
              being part of an ensemble or the adventure that a movie comes
              along.  I must say one of the great things is you can always --
              you can always say, They didn't get any in the United States, but
              man, are we crushing it in eastern Europe.  They love our movie
              in eastern Europe.  So that's a good thing to know.  Question number three.  Yes.
              QUESTION:  Who do you want to play next?
              TOM HANKS:  Who do I want to play next or who are they -- see,
              this is an interesting thing.  I would like to play you next, but
              unless someone comes to me with that great thing, unless you have
              a screenplay that is based on you and your life, I am -- the
              current plan and because I'm sick, I'm about to leave to go to
              Australia, good thoughts to Australia for what's going on down
              there, to work with Baz Luhrmann, and I will be playing, if all
              goes according to plan, Colonel Tom Parker to Austin Butler's
              Elvis Presley.  And hopefully I will then finally have an answer
              to all of your stupid questions about why I will never play a bad
              guy.  I think I'm about to do that.  So that's who I'm playing
              next.  So we have time for one more question.
              QUESTION:  Hi, Tom.  My question to you is:  You and Keanu
              Reeves, there's a handful of Hollywood actors and actresses that
              everybody seems to love.  How do you, through all of these years
              in a career in Hollywood, not gotten many people pissed off at
              you and no scandals all this time?
              TOM HANKS:  I don't know.  It's not a -- it's not a -- it's not
              a -- it's not an agenda.  There's no strategy to it.  I will say
              this.  I have worked briefly with Keanu.  He has a wonderful
              answer to those questions, what is it like to be -- how is it to
              be so well regarded, well liked, and he says, "Well, it's
              preferable to the alternative," which is true.  I'd rather be
              appreciated than loathed.  That's just me.  But I will say that
              years and years, when I -- when I realized that being an actor
              was a thing, a job, a craft, a pursuit you could have, I didn't
              think there would be anything that could possibly be more fun
              than that.  I'm not in this for power, although I have some.
              (Laughter.)  I'm not in this for money, although, man, am I rich.
              (Laughter.)  I can go to Greece anytime I want to.  That's how
              comfortable I am.  But there is no substitute for that great,
              incredible -- I will tell you this:  When I was in high school
              and we would audition for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night or
              Tennessee Williams, auditions would be done on Friday and the
              cast list would be put up on Monday, and I could not sleep for
              that entire week.  And I still feel that way the weekend before
              we start shooting something.  It's just the greatest and most
              exciting and challenging job there is.  Outside of, of course,
              trying to keep up this horrible facade of being a delightful man
              in front of all of you correspondents, so savage, so cynical.
              No, I'm joking.  All we do is talk about movies, so it all works
              out fine.  Thanks for a lovely night, everybody.


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