After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.
It’s always a treat to work with Tom Hanks whether he’s behind the cameras or in front of them. He’s just one of rare few talented guys in Hollywood who remembers he was a struggling human being long before he became a movie star. When the agents called and breathlessly told me I’d been offered a role in one of Tom’s films without even having to audition for it, I told them to lock it up; the role didn’t matter. If Tom thought I could do it, I’d trust his judgment as I’d done on Saving Pvt. Ryan and Band of Brothers.
As it turned out, Tom had written the script along with talented writer/actor Nia Vardalos, and was set to direct as well as star in a little gem of a film about a retired Navy cook who gets fired from his retail job and goes back to school at a community college to improve his chances at follow-on employment. The surprise came with what he wanted me to do in the story. I play a Mr. Cox, manager of a typical Southern California big-box retail outlet, more concerned with the profit margin than the people he employs. In one pivotal scene early on in the set-up I’ve got to fire Tom and deal with his shocked reactions. The irony involved was not lost on me since Tom is the guy who hired me or backed me in several other films. Turn-about is apparently not fair play…at least in Hollywood.
It was great working with a cast of talented actors including Julia Roberts, Rita Wilson, Cedric The Entertainer, Bryan Cranston, and a slew of others that I’d seen but never met before the initial table reading of the script. It was also a thrill to be an actor rather than a military advisor for Jon Seda, Josh Bitton and Rami Malek who were three of the stars I worked with on HBO’s The Pacific. The film didn’t do so well commercially, but I think it’s much better than the treatment it got from critics.