Tom Hanks Talks Playing Against Guy as Aging Grouch in ‘A Man Called Otto’

Tom Hanks in 'A Man Called Otto' (Sony)

Enter Tom Hanks A man named Otto. (Photos: Sony Images)

The slogan of the poster for A man named Ottocomedic drama starring Tom Hanks, reads, “Fall in love with the grumpiest man in America.”

Suffice to say, Hanks is playing against type in the new Americanized adaptation of Fredrik Backman’s 2012 bestseller A man named Ovewhich was also made into the Oscar-nominated Swedish film of the same name in 2015. Because if the beloved 66-year-old actor has his catchphrase in real life, it has become “America’s Dad”.

“In fact, they’re both one and the same, my friend, a grumpy father,” Hanks says, laughing, in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment.

In this version, Hanks’ Otto Anderson is a widower recently forced into retirement from his job as an engineer who runs his Pittsburgh subdivision with an iron fist – and lives in a constant state of gruff annoyance, particularly when it comes to his friendly neighbors but breaking the rules. . (In an amusing coincidence, Hanks has now both played arguably the jolliest man in Pittsburgh, famed children’s TV host Fred Rogers in A beautiful day in the neighborhoodand the grumpiest.)

“I’d say Otto is the right man,” says Hanks, who also produced the film, with wife Rita Wilson. “The guy who knows what’s right, the fairest man. He knows you can’t park here [somewhere], you know? And that’s an important knowledge to know sometimes… This is just proper behavior, it’s an acceptance of what the rules are, and the rules are in place to give everyone a fair shake. Now, as a dad, I try to convey that, but I guess I’ll end up sounding grumpy to all my brat kids.

A MAN CALLED OTTO, from left: Tom Hanks, Mariana Trevino, 2022. ph: Niko Tavernise / © Sony Pictures Entertainment / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Tom Hanks, left, and Mariana Treviño, inside A man named Otto. (Photo: Niko Tavernise / © Sony Pictures Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Hanks’ collaborators were thrilled to work with the Oscar-winning actor, even though, for Mariana Treviño and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, that meant finding themselves on the other side of Otto’s wrath for much of the film. The actors play Mexican-American parents with two young children and another on the way, who move across the street from Otto and refuse to be rejected by his short temper. (In the film’s heavier subplot, they also inadvertently thwart multiple suicide attempts by Otto, who is recovering from the recent death of his wife.)

“It was completely surreal,” says Treviño, a revelation in the film as the energetic “mama bear” Marisol. “And to see up close how she manages, despite all the grumpiness that she projects, to see the core of her, the vulnerability that she was working from, the pain of her. All the surlyness shines through, and we could see it and we could feel it when we were shooting. And that was really enriching.

It was Garcia-Rulfo’s second time working with Hanks, after 2020 Greyhound.

“It’s crazy, it’s just amazing,” the actor says. “His professionalism is insane. I’ve never worked with someone who has that presence, that humility and that openness to everyone on set, all the crew, all the actors. I learned so much from him about how actors should work on set.”

Hanks has made life easier for his director, Marc Forster, who knows a thing or two about adapting successful novels (The Kite Runner, World War Z) himself.

“I couldn’t have made this film without Tom Hanks,” he says. “Tom is so well prepared, he’s so kind. And he’s always thinking, and he’s so thoughtful about all the choices that he’s making as an actor. He’s like someone playing an incredible instrument. It’s like you’re playing with the best violinist in the world… He pretty much covers everything. There is nothing better.

So how much Otto Anderson is in Tom Hanks?

There is one pet pee Hanks will tell you that drives him to a level eight temper tantrum.

“Oh, we’re just talking about people not using turn signals in front of you,” he complains. “Suddenly the car slowing down and slowing down for reasons you don’t understand, and then literally stopping. What if they just turned on the right flasher for [indicate] are they looking for a place to park, or will they pull into that driveway, that’s fine. But when they don’t, everything is difficult. So, yes, I have.

Feel free to tell the next person in front of you on the street that Tom Hanks wouldn’t be happy.

“Let them know America’s grumpiest dad is disappointed in them,” she says. “And then see what happens.”

A man named Otto opens in theaters Friday.

Watch the trailer:

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