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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2008, 09:22 GMT
Star Hanks cautious over war film
By Rebecca Jones
Arts correspondent, BBC News

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks says he is unsure if his latest film, Charlie Wilson's War, will find an audience.

Tom Hanks
Hanks is one of Hollywood's most popular and bankable stars
He may have won two Oscars, and be one of the most popular stars in cinema.

But the 51-year-old fears his latest film could be a flop.

Charlie Wilson's War opens in the UK next week - and the actor says he has absolutely no idea whether anyone will go to see it.

"I am long past thinking that we have bottled Coca-Cola when we make a movie," he says. "It might be a disaster.

"We might be hounded out of town by a mob with torches and pitchforks and chased into a windmill and burnt to death.

"Or we might get a parade down Hollywood Boulevard. You never know what's going to happen."

'No connection'

Studio executives hope a big name like Hanks, who stars in the film alongside Julia Roberts and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, will guarantee success at the multiplexes.

Yet the actor - who won back to back Oscars for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump - is sceptical.

Tom Hanks with Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War
Hanks' latest film sees him play a real-life US congressman
"The marketing people are all convinced because Phil is in it, Julia is in it and my face is on the poster it is going to do just great.

"But it's not going to work out that way. There is no real connection from one person's movie to the next, unless it is the next film in a saga.

"Everything else has to win the audience over from the get-go."

Hanks' caution is understandable. Films with the word "war" in the title can be a hard sell.

Charlie Wilson's War is also about politics and Afghanistan - subjects that do not necessarily appeal to a wide audience.

Directed by Mike Nichols, it tells the true story of a Democratic congressman who helped finance and equip Afghan rebels in their fight against the invading Soviet army in the 1980s.

Released in the US in December, it is one of a number of recent releases which examine American policy-making and the war on terror in some shape or form.

Heirachy

Others include Lions for Lambs, Rendition, In the Valley of Elah and Redacted. None has been a smash hit.

"I think it's very hard to make a movie about war when you're fighting a war," says Hanks by way of explanation.

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci Code
He is lined up to appear in Da Vinci Code prequel Angels and Demons
"The great films about World War II were made long after World War II. The great films about Vietnam, that were commercially successful, were made long after the Vietnam war was over. We need distance and perspective."

However his latest project is received, Hanks' star still burns bright.

It is rumoured, after all, he will become the highest paid actor in Hollywood history when he stars in the follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons.

Put this to him, however, and he strongly denies that is the case.

"I make a lot of money, I'm a wealthy man and I've made good deals on some films," he admits.

"But it's never been important to me to be on some sort of hierarchy or hit list. It all depends on how good the movies go.

"Eventually I'm going to make so many films that don't do well," he continues.

When that happens, he says, "I'll be begging them just to show up."

Charlie Wilson's War is released in the UK on 11 January.

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