The health issues of Tom Hanks

Did Tom Hanks’ Radical Transformation For Cast Away Leave Him Battling Severe Health Issues?

Cast Away left Tom Hanks physically and mentally drained, but did it cause any long-lasting health issues?

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks has gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries when it comes to his craft. From his haunting portrayal of the AIDS-stricken Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia to his almost magical metamorphosis into alcoholic baseball coach Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own, Hanks has repeatedly proven himself a master of transformation.

Though infrequent, Hanks’ transformations have been so iconic that when William Broyles Jr. and Robert Zemeckis wanted to make a film about a FedEx systems analyst marooned on a desolate island for years, they knew that the now 66-year-old would be the right man for the job. To perfectly encapsulate Chuck Noland’s journey on the island, Hanks gained then lost a staggering 50 pounds. Though truly mind-blowing, the extreme transformation wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, as the father of four later admitted that making the movie left him physically and mentally drained. So, could the movie be responsible for some of the actor’s current health issues?

Tom Hanks Underwent A Radical Physical Transformation For Cast Away

Released in 2000, Cast Away remains one of Tom Hanks’ most memorable films. The film weaves the tale of FedEx systems analyst, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), who gets stranded on a desolate island for four years, and has to rely on nothing but his wits to survive.

In what would become the most radical transformation of his career, Hanks packed on a staggering 50 pounds in pre-production to embody a run-of-the-mill FedEx agent. In addition, to transform into the castaway specter that was Chuck Noland toward the end of the film, the film’s production was halted for a year so Hanks could lose the weight and grow out his hair.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly ahead of the film’s premiere, Hanks admitted that he had to make some painful concessions in terms of diet to achieve the radical transformation. “The only thing I did not give up was coffee,” he said. “Nope, wasn’t about to! Can’t do it! Excuse me, no, I’m not! Ain’t gonna happen, pal!”

Owing to his dedication, Cast Away went on to rank among the highest grossing films of 2000, grossing an astounding $28.9 million in just its opening weekend, and ultimately quadrupling its $90 million budget. The film also performed spectacularly on the critical front, with Hanks’ nuanced portrayal of Noland receiving the most acclaim. “Hanks proves here and again what an effective actor he is,” wrote Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, “never straining for an effect, always persuasive even in this unlikely situation, winning our sympathy with his eyes and his body language when there’s no one else on the screen.”

Did Tom Hanks’ Cast Away Transformation Affect His Health?

Though truly iconic, Tom Hanks transformation into Chuck Noland turned out to be quite the ordeal. “It was a burden,” he told Entertainment Weekly of his physical metamorphosis into the iconic character. “And it was a burden because I knew when the time came there wasn’t going to be anyone else to work off of.”

Apart from the physical toll of gaining then losing 50 pounds, Hanks also had to grapple with significant mental turmoil while filming the movie. Owing to the film’s unique narrative, the Saving private Ryan star had to film most of the scenes in isolation, which drove him to the brink of madness.

“When Wilson was born, I had dialogue with him, and I heard his dialogue in my head,” he told Graham Bensinger in a 2020 interview. “I did go crazy cause I never had a day off. I never had a shot off. I was never off camera for anything. It was the whole movie was point and shoot. Yeah, I don’t even recall hearing ‘action’ and ‘cut’. You just kind of like wander into the frame and wander out, and that’s how we shot the movie. It could have been very, very undisciplined, but Bob got what he needed, so thank god.”

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