Tom Hanks won his first of two consecutive acting Oscars for his role in 'Philadelphia' in 1993, but stated that a straight actor such as himself couldn't play the role today.
Hanks played a gay man with HIV in the 1993 Jonathan Demme film, but Hanks told the New York Times that a straight actor like him wouldn't be given the role today - with good reason, Hanks added.
“Let’s address ‘could a straight man do what I did in “Philadelphia” now?’ No, and rightly so,” Hanks told The New York Times Magazine.
“The whole point of ‘Philadelphia’ was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”
“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity,” Hanks added. “Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”
'Philadelphia' was director Jonathan Demme's follow-up to his blockbuster Oscar-winning thriller 'The Silence Of The Lambs', and the film was the first major Hollywood film to tackle the AIDS crisis.
The film was a major success upon release in 1993, despite initial fears that a gay-themed film would not do well commercially, with the film ending up making over $400 million adjusted for inflation.
Hanks won an Oscar for the role, with Bruce Springsteeen also winning an Oscar for the film's theme, 'Streets of Philadelphia'.
Daniel Day-Lewis was offered the role of Andrew Beckett initially but turned the film down, with Bill Murray strongly considered for the role of Beckett's lawyer Joe Miller, which ended up being played by Denzel Washington.
The film cast over 50 individuals with HIV/AIDS in the film, and less than a year after the release of the film, over 40 of them had succumbed to the disease.
'Philadelphia' has been read by modern critics as director Jonathan Demme atoning for the harm he had caused the transgender community with the depiction of Buffalo Bill in 'The Silence Of The Lambs', and the director had used his new-found influence within Hollywood to direct a mainstream film that depicted the hardships endured by the LGBTQ+ community.
The film was written by the openly gay Ron Nyswaner, and recalling the films production to Smithsonian Magazine in 2018, the writer said "Guys, there are ten movies in development right now about AIDS and all of them have a heterosexual main character—that’s immoral. We’re going to make the movie about AIDS that should be made."
When Hanks accepted the Oscar, he said "I know that my work, in this case, is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels."
"We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight."