Tom Hanks: eight true stories about 'the nicest guy in Hollywood'

The Hollywood and Late Late Show star was cast adrift in the Pacific, has his own typewriter app, and once gave a refund to two disgruntled film fans

Tom Hanks, pictured in February 2015
Tom Hanks, pictured in February 2015 Credit: Photo: GETTY

He collects vintage typewriters

As many Hanks fans already know, the actor collects vintage typewriters from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, and uses a typewriter for non-urgent day-to-day writing tasks, from making “to do” lists to creating notes for the fridge. He prefers the bulky steel machines to modern word processors, he says, because of the “tactile pleasure” he gains from hitting the keys, and the satisifyingly loud sound that results when he does so. But the star also had a more personal connection to one particular model, which belonged to his late father.

“My dad’s Underwood, bought used just after the war for his single year at USC, had some keys so worn out by his punishing fingers that they were misshapen and blank,” the actor wrote in a 2013 New York Times article. “The S key was a mere nib. I sent it to a shop for what was meant to be only a cleaning, but it came back with all the keys replaced. So long, Dad, and curse you, industrious typewriter serviceperson.”

He released his own typewriter app

The Hanx Writer

Eager to share his typewriting passion with the world, Hanks helped develop an iPad app that recreates the typewriter “experience” on a digital device. The winningly named Hanx Writer comes complete with “bang bang clack-clack-clack puckapuckapuckapucka” sound effects (to borrow Hanks's own beautifully onomatopoeic description), and allows the user to “experience” the joy of rolling in fresh sheets whenever they want to start a new page. It also adds in the conveniently modern function of a “delete” key, although die-hard traditionalists can opt to turn this off.

He was cast adrift in the Pacific (for real)

While filming the 2000 film Castaway, in which he plays a man marooned on a desert island, Hanks had his own real-life (although relatively brief and admittedly not-all-that-dramatic) “castaway” experience, when the cable connecting his raft to the film's crew broke and left the star floating free in the ocean.

“I was there 40 minutes,” he said in a 2001 interview. “I mean, I wasn't in any real danger but at the same time, you realise that there's no one else around, and no place else to go. That's it. You and the sea. It's kind of freaky.”

Tom Hanks in Castaway

He was recently reunited with Wilson

It's a well-known fact that it's impossible to write about Castaway, or read about Castaway, or look at the above picture of Tom Hanks in Castaway, without feeling the urge to shout “Wiiilllssson!” (For anyone not in the know: Wilson is a volleyball with a face painted on "him": after Hanks's Castaway character is stranded on an island, he begins talking to the ball, making it his only companion.)

During a recent New York Ranger ice hockey game, one fan took things a step further. After the cameras focused on Hanks, Wilson (well, “a Wilson” at any rate) was thrown at the star. Hanks seemed happy to be reunited with his volleyball co-star, excitedly declaring: “It's Wilson!”

He made one fan's day

In 2013, Hanks met one of his biggest fans: a woman named Sarah Moretti. Moretti, who has autism, had spent years collecting pictures and news-cuttings related to Hanks and putting them together into a scrapbook. Hanks, who met the super-fan backstage at his Broadway show Lucky Guy, not only took the time to go through the book, but appeared to be genuinedly delighted by it, saying: “Sarah, this is so great. You know, even my mum doesn't have something like this.”

He's collating all of New York's lost gloves

Since January 2013, Hanks has been using his Twitter feed to share photographs of all the lost gloves he finds on the streets of New York. We're not quite sure why, but can attest that looking through Hanks's pictures of folorn lost gloves is a strangely addictive pastime. Here are some of his latest finds:

He gave a $25 refund to a couple who hated one of his movies

It's probably fair to say that quite a few people didn't enjoy Hanks's 2011 comedy Larry Crowne. Directed and produced by Hanks (who also starred in it, opposite Julia Roberts), the film was widely panned by critics, and performed poorly at the box office. Nonetheless, the actor-director may have been somewhat taken aback after falling into conversation with a movie-going couple at a petrol station near his California home, who abruptly told Hanks that they thought the film “wasn't that good”. Living up to his reputation for indefatigable niceness, the star reportedly said “Gee, I'm sorry you were disappointed, how about letting me refund your ticket money?”, and promptly offered them a $25 refund (which they accepted).

He befriended a New York taxi driver

In October 2014, a New York cabbie, whose story was featured in the Humans of New York Facebook project, told the website about the time when Tom Hanks got into his cab. At first, the driver didn't recognise the star, but, after clocking who he was, he responded in time-honoured fashion:

“I look him in the eye, and I scream: 'WIIIIIIILLLSSSSSOOOOOOON!!!'” he said. “And that really got him. He started laughing hard. He sees that I've got this Ferrari hat on, and a Ferrari shirt too, so he starts calling me 'Mr. Ferrari.' The whole ride, he keeps calling me 'Mr. Ferrari.' So after we get to his destination, we snap a quick photo, and he goes on his way.”

So far, so heartwarming. But the story doesn't end there.

“Mr Ferrari” with Tom Hanks (Image: Mr Ferrari/Facebook, via The Daily Mail:

“Over the next few weeks, I just happen to randomly pick up people that know him. People who have acted with him before, people who work with him," the cabbie continued. "And every time, I tell them: 'Tell Mr. Hanks that Mr. Ferrari says "hello".' Every time I say that. Then one day I'm driving, and I get a text from one of the people that I'd driven, and it says: 'Mr. Hanks wants to invite you to see his Broadway show.' ”

The driver and his partner received tickets for the Broadway show, and met the star backstage.

“After the show, we're waiting for him in his dressing room, and he walks in and screams: 'Mr. Ferrari!'" the driver said. "And you wanna know the craziest thing? The name of his show was Lucky Guy. How crazy is that? Cause that was me. A lucky guy!”