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Hollywood actor Tom Hanks stars in a triple role -- producer,director and actor -- for the forthcoming Larry Crowne,an upbeat romantic comedy with Julia Roberts. In an exclusive interview with Screen,he speaks of the film – a story about a guy thrown out of his job who heads to college – and why humour is what the doctor ordered.

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha | Mumbai |
July 8, 2011 3:49:49 pm

Hollywood actor Tom Hanks stars in a triple role — producer,director and actor — for the forthcoming Larry Crowne,an upbeat romantic comedy with Julia Roberts. In an exclusive interview with Screen,he speaks of the film – a story about a guy thrown out of his job who heads to college – and why humour is what the doctor ordered.

What would you say is special about the film Larry Crowne?

I get a lot of credit from people who say,‘Wow,this is really about stuff that’s going on in today’s economy.’ But it’s a personal movie,about how the economy ends up affecting people in a very personal manner.

Larry did everything right. He joined the Navy to serve his country. The only thing he did wrong was that he took out a loan on his house,which then went under water. He plays by the book but still ends up getting impacted by that brand of indifferent fate.

How challenging is a romcom for an actor of your stature who has been there,done that?

This is not exactly a traditional summer movie fare. No studio paid for this film. We sent it around to the two big-time studios that we have relationships with and both said,‘We do not know how to make a movie like this,so we can’t do it.’

What made you choose Julia Roberts for the role of an embittered teacher?

We did Charlie Wilson’s War together a few years ago. I had some teachers who looked like Julia. I would see them and think,‘I love you’. So there was never anyone but Julia for this role.

Is it tough to both direct and act?

I always remember three things: Show up on time,know what you’re going to say,and have an idea about the character. And when I direct,that’s what I expect from my actors. You’d be amazed how hard it is to do those three things.

Isn’t there a danger of oversimplification downsizing and unemployment in a comedy ? Or would you say that laughter is the best medicine?

You don’t have to be a real-estate developer whose condo unit went belly-up to understand that if you lose your job and you can’t make the mortgage on your house it’s a personal crisis you’re going through,not something you just read about on the business pages.

We wanted to make a movie that was going to be funny,that if not upbeat is at least an example of how to fight cynicism,how to combat the depression that could go along with losing one’s job,and how to still have faith in oneself.

Any particular scene you thought was particularly tricky?

I had to master riding a scooter and get a license for it too. It’s one thing to pass a written test — which is diabolical — but then you have to run the course,go around in a circle and go through the cones.

What made you choose this film for directing it?

I simply decided to do the film through my own company and take the better part of two years. I want to make a movie that’s going to surprise people.

Did you bring any personal stories or experience to the table when shooting the film?

My first years in college were much like Larry’s. I was in junior college because it was my only option — if I didn’t enroll right after high school I would have had no path to any future. Two years in junior college became the jumping-off point for everything that came later and I think this was the same for others — not just kids out of high school,but guys back from Vietnam,wives going back to school after their kids were older,and folks who were looking to change their lives for the better.

Do you think a film like this will find resonance across the world — India,China,Europe etc and translate into box-office figures that comedies like Hangover 2 have?

The audiences themselves are going to decide it.

priyanka.sinha@expressindia.com

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