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Tom Hanks has starred in dozens of movies. Now he's written a novel, too

Tom Hanks used some of the pandemic slowdown to write a novel titled, <em>The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece.</em>
Grace Widyatmadja
Tom Hanks used some of the pandemic slowdown to write a novel titled, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece.

The numbers speak for themselves: More than 100 movies in over 45 years of acting. Now Tom Hanks is drawing on all that experience to craft a story in a very different medium. He used some of the pandemic slowdown to write a novel. Titled The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, it tells the story of a comic strip that becomes a multimillion-dollar superhero movie.

The book spans seven decades, starting in 1947 when a U.S. Marine who served as a flamethrower returns from fighting in World War II. The uncle makes such a strong impression on his 5-year-old nephew that he makes him the superhero in a comic strip; eventually, that comic becomes the foundation of a blockbuster movie franchise, set in the present day.

Tom Hanks has written a first novel, drawing on his decades in the movie industry.
/ Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf
Tom Hanks has written a first novel, drawing on his decades in the movie industry.

The novel explores every step of the making of a movie: from a difficult leading actor, to eccentric writers and countless behind-the-scenes workers. Hanks says fleshing out the details was not hard for him. "I've got anecdotes galore," he tells Morning Edition's A Martinez.

All the actions and characters in his novel are drawn from the real-life experience of making a movie, he says. And he purposely focuses not only on the stars, but on the people working behind the scenes.

"If someone is going to ask me what is the surefire way that I get to Hollywood, I would have two answers," Hanks says. "One is as Bette Davis said, take Fountain [Boulevard]. But the other one is to solve problems."

Ultimately, Hanks hopes to challenge people's perceptions about how movies are made.

"Most people think that a movie reels out like a Broadway play does or a performance of an opera. Everybody knows exactly what they are, where they need to be, how they need to do it," he says. "But movies are a long series of accidents that you don't expect, as well as, occasionally, something that goes off exactly as you planned. It's all things all at the same time."

Hanks offered this statement about the ongoing Hollywood writers strike: "I am a member of every guild there is, and there is no doubt that the economics of our business has changed in the last few years. These changes affect everybody in the making of a Motion Picture Masterpiece — and something needs to be worked out now."

Reena Advani and Miranda Kennedy contributed editing. contributed to this story

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Corrected: May 12, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story had the character in the book returning from fighting in World War I, instead of World War II.
Ziad Buchh
Ziad Buchh is a producer for NPR's Morning Edition and Up First. In addition to producing and directing the broadcast, he has also contributed to the show's sports, tech and video game coverage. He's produced and reported from all over the country, including a Trump rally, and from the temporary home of Ukrainian refugees.