Meetings that made entertainment history… When Graham Norton met Tom Hanks

Irish television show host Graham Norton and American actor and film-maker Tom Hanks struck up an easy friendship after first meeting on Norton’s BBC chat show. In fact, they got on so well that Hanks returned to the Graham Norton Show several times – keeping the host, the audience and fellow guests in stitches!

Cork-born TV presenter Norton, 55, and California-born Hanks, 62, got on famously each time they met and always had plenty to talk about, striking up an instant rapport. One of their most popular topics was Hanks’ legendary film, Forrest Gump.

Tom Hanks

Run, Forrest, run!
The actor described how he had to get very fit to play the role of Forrest, who ran everywhere. He said he had never been in better shape than when he starred in the 1994 movie, playing the kind-hearted but very naïve man from Alabama, who inadvertently witnessed several historic 20th-century events.

Discussing the role while on Norton’s show, Hanks re-enacted an iconic Forrest Gump scene – but admitted he had to use a cue card because he could no longer remember his lines.

Among Hanks’ fellow guests was British Olympic distance runner Mo Farah, who said Forrest Gump was so legendary that the movie had even impacted on his training, nearly two decades later. Farah said that often, when he was out running, passers-by would shout after him, “Run, Forrest, run!” as they mimicked the iconic line from the movie.

Royal banquet
On another occasion on The Graham Norton Show, Hanks described his meeting with the Queen in 2011. The actor had been invited to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen, with the then US President Barack Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Hanks was one of 171 guests at the banquet in honour of the Obamas’ first State visit to the UK. He said he had a chance to speak to Her Majesty when they discussed Shakespeare and her love of the theatre.

Hanks told Norton that he kept wondering why he had been invited to such an important state occasion and joked he wondered if he had won a prize in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-type competition!

Special gift
The two stars have remained friends over the years and in 2017, Hanks sent Norton a signed copy of his new book, Uncommon Type – a collection of short stories written by the actor. Norton was reading the book when he came across a personal message from Hanks, tucked away on page 57.

Afterwards, Norton said he thought the message, halfway through the book, was a bit of a test by Hanks. He joked on Twitter: “See … Tom Hanks didn’t think I’d bother to read his brilliant new book, Uncommon Type. Wrong!”

Norton has won five BAFTA awards for The Graham Norton Show, which was first broadcast by the BBC in 2007. Hanks, said to be worth an estimated $390 million, has starred in a multitude of iconic films, such as Splash in 1984, Big in 1988, Sleepless in Seattle in 1993 and Cast Away in 2000. His films have grossed more than $90 billion worldwide.

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Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson / CC BY 2.0

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