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When Tom Hanks speaks about female directors, we listen. It’s time Hollywood did too

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Hollie Richardson
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Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks, who stars in Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, has shown more support for his female peers. It’s time that Hollywood took notice of his wakeup call. 

Tom Hanks has proven himself to be a feminist ally time and time again. He’s been vocal in the #MeToo movement,  he constantly shows support for his female peers in the industry, and you only need to read this round-up of tweets to understand how he earned his “good guy” reputation.

At this year’s Golden Globes, Hanks also used his award-winning speech to spotlight female directors in year when none were nominated. He went about naming some of his collaborators, thanking them for transforming his career. The actor began by praising female directors and “screenwriters I’ve worked with,” like “Nora [Ephron] and Penny [Marshall], Mari [Heller] of late”.

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Now, following the news that no women are nominated for the Best Director Oscar, Hanks has shown his support for female directors once more. 

In an interview that was recorded before the nominations were revealed, Hanks called out the lack of recognition given to women in the industry. The acting legend – who is nominated for Best Actor for his lead role in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – basically predicted how female directors would be ignored.

Speaking to the BBC, Hanks said: “I’m in a movie that was directed by Marielle Heller. Our movie would not have existed without Marielle Heller’s iron clad vision, no small amount of: ‘no you’re not going to do it [that way], you’re going to do it this way’. And a determination and a perseverance in order to get it done. Is that going to be enough? Is there enough credit that goes along with that? Or does there have to be some other metric that will judge whether our movie is any good or whether Marielle did a good job or what have you.”

Watch the trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

He added: “Sooner or later it comes down to, well, is it a meritocracy or what? I think you could look at any group of nominees and say: ‘Just the white guys? Really? Well let’s take a look at the movies.’”

Hanks concluded: “All you can do is look at the voting body that decided who those people were who said ‘those films were not good enough’. 

Heller – who also directed hit films Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Diary of a Teenage Girl – also shared her experiences in the interview.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood director Marielle Heller and Tom Hanks.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood director Marielle Heller and Tom Hanks.

“There’s a version of a director that people have in their head. It’s a cis, white older man in a baseball cap, sitting in a chair with headphones on,” she explained.

“I had this one experience with Can You Ever Forgive Me?, where we had been scouting this library, and I had been there probably four times. We were picking this location, the librarian who was there was very nice, she had talked to me so many times. I talked about where I would put the camera, I would love it if we could clear out these shelves, I want to use this, I want to use that. 

“We went back for our final scout, which was the tech scout, with the whole crew, and my AD [assistant director] says: ‘OK, so now the director is going to walk through with everybody what we’re going to do with the scene’. And she went: ‘The director’s here?’. And the AD went: ‘Yep, she’s right there.’ And she looked at me and went: ‘Oh I thought you’d have a hat.’”

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If Hanks wins his award, it will be interesting (and unsurprising!) if he uses the opportunity to echo the message he’s been saying all along: give female directors the credit they deserve.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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