'Big' Co-Star Tom Hanks Addressed Its Most Controversial Scene
Tom Hanks' status as one of cinema's greatest actors was established a long time ago.
The actor rose to prominence in the 1980s, jumping from TV's Bosom Buddies to big-screen comedies like Splash and Bachelor Party, but it was 1988's Big that gave audiences their first taste of Hanks' range.
Despite this, the film is not without controversy, including one scene in which Hanks' co-star felt compelled to speak out.
The film tells the story of a young Josh Baskin (David Moscow) who wishes to be "big," and director Penny Marshall's film is both a coming-of-age story and a fish-out-of-water comedy.
In Big, there's a delicate balance that doesn't feel like it should work.
Nonetheless, it works thanks to Hanks' charisma, which means Big could have been even more perplexing.
Marshall was in talks with none other than Robert De Niro to star in the film before Hanks signed on.
While De Niro is an incredibly talented actor, he lacks Hanks' inherent likeability.
Big would have been a very different film if the Goodfellas star had been in the lead.
With the exception of one egregious exception, the film manages to smooth over most of its more problematic obstacles thanks to Hanks.
Elizabeth Perkins, who plays Susan Lawrence opposite Tom Hanks in Big, spoke out about the film's most contentious plot point in a 2013 interview with the New York Post.
She specifically addressed the suggestion that Tom Hanks' Josh and Susan had an intimate night together, which is unsettling given Josh's magical circumstances.
"Where do you draw the line when you put these people in bed and actually have them have sex?" Perkins told the Post.
"She can't have sex with a 13-year-old, but the next morning when you see him, you get the impression [from his happy expression] that they slept together, or that he has been sexually fulfilled in some way. But it's that fine line where the audience always knows he's a 13-year-old, but the [other characters] don't."
Marshall undoubtedly staged that scene in an ambiguous manner on purpose.
And the current debate over how it should be played is a testament to Hanks' performance.
In the then-thirty-something star of Big, the actor and Marshall went to great lengths to capture the essence of a young boy in the actor.
Big proved to be a watershed moment in Hanks' career.
His ability to layer some dramatic heft into his largely comedic screen persona was demonstrated in this film.
And for his transformation into a child, he received his first Academy Award nomination.
Only a few years later, Hanks would demonstrate his dramatic prowess.
The actor won back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump in the mid-1990s.
Of course, since then, Tom Hanks has established himself as one of Hollywood's most popular actors.
Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood all earned him Oscar nominations.