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Tom Hanks’ 10 Best Roles Ranked, from ‘Cast Away’ to ‘Saving Private Ryan’

Plus, Hanks' best lines, including "You are a child's play thing," "Houston, we have a problem," and "There's no crying in baseball!"

Tom Hanks in "Big," "Forrest Gump," "Captain Phillips," "Cast Away," and "Philadelphia"

Everett Collection

Take a gander at the last 40 years of cinema, and you’ll find at least one universal truth: The people love Tom Hanks. The 66-year-old actor is known around Hollywood and the world as an affable everyman, with as much capacity for heady drama as a knack for quippy comedy. Hanks’ most famous roles range from the light and whimsical (see flicks like “Money Pit,” “Turner & Hooch,” and “Larry Crowne”) to the darkly complex (“The Green Mile,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and “The Post”). He’s also responsible for delivering lines in some of cinema’s most quotable movies, including “A League of Their Own” (“There’s no crying in baseball!”) and “Apollo 13” (“Houston, we have a problem”).

Hanks cut his teeth as a stage actor, performing Shakespeare and other plays in his hometown of Lakewood, California for much of the late ’70s. At 24-years-old, Hanks made his first movie appearance as a flirty jogger in the slasher “He Knows You’re Alone” before starring opposite Daryl Hannah in Ron Howard’s romantic comedy “Splash” four years later. Hanks was known for his rom-coms for some time, famously pairing up with Meg Ryan for both “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” His broader comedies were similarly well-received, with “Toy Story” becoming a lifelong Hanks’ franchise and “Big” snagging the actor his first Oscar nomination.

But the best Tom Hanks roles have mainly been dramatic. “Philadelphia” would earn Hanks his first Academy Award for Best Actor in 1994. He’d immediately follow it up with a second Best Actor win for “Forrest Gump” in 1995. Teaming up with director Steven Spielberg for “Saving Private Ryan,” Hanks was nominated again in 1999. The actor topped off his turn of the century success streak with one more nomination for Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 survival epic “Cast Away.” Hanks wouldn’t be honored by the Academy again until 2020, when he played beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

In honor of the actor’s July 9 birthday and his return to the big screen, in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” here are the 10 best Tom Hanks performances, as well as his best lines from those films. Happy birthday, Tom!

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