Tom Hanks Is Falstaff. Discuss.

Have you heard the news?

No, not that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been associated with The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ Simply Shakespeare event since 1990.

This year, Hanks and Wilson will actually be taking part in the production, something they’ve never done before.

Even better?  Tom Hanks is playing Falstaff.

How do we feel about this? Is that a good role for him?  Has Hanks ever played anything other than a purely lovable good guy Jimmy Stewart type?  Can he do Falstaff? I know the man’s got acting credits up one side and down the other, but I’m not sure that he’s ever performed Shakespeare. Is Falstaff the first role you want to attempt? Is it too much of a role to ask of anybody?


4 thoughts on “Tom Hanks Is Falstaff. Discuss.

  1. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Chewie.”

    I’ve nothing against TH per se. My favourite movie with him in is the remake of The Ladykillers, and I thought him great in it – very different to what we might think of a TH role.


    It IS a massive part. It needs an almost unique mixture of bombast and vulnerability. You need to be a rogue, raging against the dying of the light but ultimately knowing that the battle is lost.

    Simon Russell Beale’s a good Falstaff on screen (Hollow Crown) – he channels the pathos beautifully. On audio (Arkangel), I think Richard Griffiths has the lovable scoundrel down to a tee, but is less emotionally exposed. Neither do BOTH aspect perfectly.

    And I can’t imagine TH doing it justice at either end, let alone combining all the character’s complexity. It’d be great if I were proved wrong, but …

  2. My favorite Falstaff is Anthony Quayle from the late 70s BBC films. He’s a subtle and fascinating Falstaff. I cannot imagine Tom Hanks as Falstaff. Not in a million years. But I did love him in The Ladykillers too. So maybe I’m wrong. His voice just doesn’t seem right for the part to me. Too nasally, with potential for whining.

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