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Tom Hanks: 'The Terminal'

Tom Hanks has teamed up with director Steven Spielberg twice on the big screen -- and the results have meant both critical acclaim and blockbuster box-office.

In 1998, Hanks played a World War II captain looking for a lost soldier in "Saving Private Ryan." And in 2002, the actor portrayed an FBI agent hot on the trail of a master con artist in "Catch Me If You Can."

Now, Hanks and Spielberg are hoping their winning streak continues with the new film "The Terminal."

Spielberg was not involved in the project when Hanks signed on. Hanks tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "I signed on for the screenplay, which I thought was a great idea. Not long after that, Stephen came in."

It's the storyline that attracted Spielberg's interest, explains Hanks, adding, "It was written from a story by (executive producer) Andrew Nicoll and a screenplay by Sacha Gervasi. It read like it was a house on fire. Whenever you come across something like, I've never seen it before, I can't believe no one thought of this before and it plays itself out in a logical, wonderful way. I'm not surprised Stephen got excited about it."

In the film, Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a recent visitor to New York City from Eastern Europe.

"He is a native of a former Soviet republic somewhere between the Balkans and the Baltics," explains Hanks about the made-up country. "We actually thought about this. It had to be deep enough in the former Soviet Union to have a geographical, like, broadcast distance from all things American and western. It had to be a hard place to get to, a hard place to get the radio. So where you could only understand that the life between the Soviet era and today is really not all that different."

The problem is, his homeland suddenly becomes politically unstable while he is in the air, en route to America, and so he finds himself a man without a country.

Hanks explains, "His papers are no good; his passport is no good; his visa is no good. The homeland security department does its job. It says you're not coming into the country, but we can't send you home either because there are no planes flying back. So he lives in a very luxurious international departures and arrivals terminal at JFK."

Soon, days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and "the madcap adventures ensue," Hanks says, as Viktor finds new friends, love and a new home on his indefinite stay at the airport hub.

Some Facts About Tom Hanks

  • Thomas J. Hanks was born in Concord, Calif., on July 9, 1956.
  • Hanks attended California State University, Sacramento; He dropped out to intern with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival.
  • In 1980, Hanks earned his first mainstream exposure opposite Peter Scolari in the television show "Bosom Buddies," in which he plays an ad man who cross-dresses to keep his cheap apartment in a women's hotel.
  • In 1984, Hanks had the lead in Ron Howard's "Splash"; the actor also had roles in "Bachelor Party" and "The Man With One Red Shoe."
  • In 1986, Hanks co-starred with Shelley Long in "The Money Pit"; in "Nothing in Common," Hanks played a workaholic who begins to bond with his ailing father (Jackie Gleason).
  • In 1988, Hanks co-starred with Sally Field in the movie "Punchline"; the actor also played the role of a young boy in a man's body in "Big" – earning him an Oscar nomination for the part.
  • In 1990, Hanks teamed him with Meg Ryan in "Joe Versus the Volcano"; the same year, Hanks co-starred in "The Bonfire of the Vanities."
  • In 1992, Hanks played the boozy coach of a distaff baseball team in "A League of Their Own."
  • In 1993, Hanks reteams with Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle"; the actor won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "Philadelphia."
  • In 1994, Hanks won a back-to-back Best Actor Oscar for his role in "Forrest Gump" -- playing a Southerner with a low IQ who through happenstance takes part in many defining moments in history.
  • In 1995, Hanks played real-life astronaut Jim Lovell in "Apollo 13"; the actor lent his voice to the computer animated movie "Toy Story."
  • In 1996, the actor turned to screenwriting, producing and directing for the '60s-era comedy-drama "That Thing You Do!"
  • In 1998, Hanks headed HBO's 13-part examination of the history of the U.S. Space Program, "From the Earth to the Moon"; Hanks co-starred in Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan"; he also re-teamed with Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail."
  • In 1999, Hanks played a prison guard who become involved with a mysterious prisoner in Stephen King's "The Green Mile."
  • In 2000, Hanks won acclaim - and another Oscar nomination - for his portrayal of a castaway in "Cast Away."
  • In 2001, Hanks and Steven Spielberg collaborated as executive producers for the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers."
  • In 2002, Hanks portrays a 1920s Chicago gangster seeking revenge for the death of family members in "The Road to Perdition"; the actor played real-life FBI fraud investigator Carl Hanratty, who was on the trail of the youngest con artist ever to make the Most Wanted list, in "Catch Me If You Can."
  • Also in 2002, Hanks produced surprise hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
  • In 2004, Hanks co-starred in the remake of the cult classic British film "The Ladykillers."
  • This fall, Hanks stars in the animated adventure "The Polar Express," which reunited him with director Robert Zemeckis. He also co-produced this.
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