1998: ‘Mile’ high

Aug.19, 1998:

Tom Hanks was back in uniform Tuesday when I met up with him on Stage 3 at Warner Hollywood Studios. This time it’s the uniform of a prison guard in Castle Rock’s “The Green Mile” for WB. Hanks is in charge of prisoners who’ll head down the “green mile” to the electric chair in the 1915 Southern prison, And, yes, we will see three prisoners executed in this Frank Darabont scripted-directed pic … Hanks was in a pensive mood when we talked about “Saving Private Ryan.” He said he visited those beaches after the film was completed. He walked those sands alone and discovered, among the many small identifying plaques, one dedicated to the company (Second Battalion, C Company of the Rangers), that he led in the movie. “I looked up in disbelief at those bunkers, some of which are still there — I walked where they died, where some put on dry socks for the last time.” Alone on that beach, Hanks was overcome with emotion, he admitted. He lay down and went to sleep for a spell. … Hanks has been working on “Green Mile” despite an ear infection that had at one time swollen the left side of his face. (He looks fine now), When asked how he would lose a necessary enormous amount of weight for the island-stranded sequences of “Castaway,” he admitted the double-skedded movie with Bob Zemeckis is a “bodacious” project and still in iffy state. He also dieted dramatically, you recall, for his AIDS-patient role in “Philadelphia.” On the happy side of the ledger, “You’ve Got Mail,” which he completed with Meg Ryan is Nora Ephron at her best, Hanks says. And he laughingly insists it is not a remake of “The Shop Around the Corner.” “It is a remake of the remake of the remake of ‘The Shop Around the Corner.'” (2006 update: since Hanks is again the center of conversation, for “The Da Vinci Code,” I chose the above column to reveal more about the thesp — the man as well as his talents.)

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