Tom Hanks is switching from gangster to G-man.
The Oscar-winning thesp is in negotiations with DreamWorks Pictures to topline “Catch Me If You Can” — the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer based on the true-life exploits of international confidence man Frank Abagnale Jr.
Hanks has been working on the other side of the law in the DreamWorks/Fox co-production “The Road to Perdition,” playing Michael O’Sullivan, a gangster whose nickname, “the Angel of Death,” left little to the imagination regarding his occupation.
That’s a far cry from the law-abiding Joe Shaye, the FBI agent Hanks would play in “Catch Me.”
Shaye gained notoriety for having tracked down and captured Abagnale, who as a counterfeiter and impostor cashed $2.5 million worth of bad checks between 1964 and 1970 — before his 21st birthday — all the while alternately impersonating an airline pilot, a physician, a stockbroker, a professor and the associate attorney general of the state of Louisiana.
The DreamWorks project has long been a favorite of DiCaprio, but had languished even as a litany of A-list directors expressed interest.
A log-jam of producer credits was resolved last week (Daily Variety, Aug. 21) when producers Anthony Romano, Michel Shane and Barry Kemp stepped aside to become executive producers, allowing DreamWorks production co-head Walter Parkes to come aboard to produce the pic with director Steven Spielberg.
Through their cat-and-mouse game, Shaye and Abagnale enjoyed a certain rapport, despite being on opposite sides of the law, and later became friends.
It was at the suggestion of Shaye that Abagnale was released after five years in prison on the condition that he teach and assist federal law enforcement agencies, without pay.
Abagnale, now 53, has lectured extensively at the FBI Academy and for the bureau’s field offices.
Hanks is repped by CAA.