Australia

Tom Hanks looking to return to Australia by end of the year

Tom Hanks has revealed he's hoping to head back to Australia to resume filming Baz Luhrmann's untitled Elvis Presley movie within the next few months.

"We are part of an entire industry and art form and business of cinema that is trying to reconcile how to go on," the 63-year-old Oscar-winning actor says in a Zoom call from his LA home. "There is certainly a plan and a desire from the studio's perspective and from everybody else involved in the movie to figure out a way to make it happen.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were in Australia when they were both diagnosed with COVID-19 in March.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were in Australia when they were both diagnosed with COVID-19 in March.Credit:AP

"There are dates on the calendar that say maybe we will be making this movie in October, but all of that stuff is a 'maybe' as questions about quarantine and temperatures and sterilising soundstages and all of that go on."

The affable actor and his wife, Rita Wilson, became the first famous faces of COVID-19 when they confirmed on March 12 that they'd tested positive and were under observation at a Queensland hospital, with minor symptoms. Production on the movie, which was to be filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, came to a halt.

"We were this far away from starting shooting," Hanks recalls, his finger and thumb almost touching. "We were tested on a Tuesday; we were in isolation on a Wednesday and we were supposed to start shooting the following Monday so we barely missed our start date but I guess it was probably better not to start and then have to shut down."

Hanks plays Commander Ernest Krause in Apple TV+ film Greyhound.

Hanks plays Commander Ernest Krause in Apple TV+ film Greyhound. Credit:Apple TV+

Even though he's fully recovered from the virus, Hanks is doubtful he'd get special treatment to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine if it's still enforced when he returns to Australia. "I was the canary in the coalmine for some of this but we're once again at a place where there is no guarantee of immunity, from what I've read," he says. "We are not done with this yet; it feels like we're right smack dab in the middle of it still."

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The pandemic has also impacted the release of his upcoming film, Greyhound, a World War II drama that was originally set for theatrical release by Sony but will now premiere on Apple TV+. Written by Hanks and based on C.S. Forester's 1955 novel The Good Shepherd, Greyhound follows US Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks) who leads his men in a brutal battle against a pack of German U-boats stalking their international convoy as they attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

"Yeah, once again, I'm an ordinary guy trying to achieve the impossible and save everybody," teases Hanks with an eye roll. "But the great groundshift that happened with the pandemic was no small part of our thinking – that our movie actually had almost direct parallels in terms of what is going to happen to the danger; who is going to survive and how hard is it going to be?

"We were devastated not to have it on a big screen but we wanted to rush it out in front of an audience so it's not just a museum piece about 1940, it's also about 2020."

Hanks is eager to return to the Gold Coast soundstages to finally play Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' manager, in Luhrmann's biopic.Returning to Australia will also give Hanks another chance to perfect his Vegemite-spreading skills, after he prompted a social media outcry with his heavy-handed application.

"I don't mind the Vegemite – but I found out I was putting way too much of it on my toast because I thought it was a volume business," he explains. "So, going back, I do know I am not going to eat nearly as many Tim Tams and I'm going to have the proper amount of Vegemite on lightly toasted, properly buttered bread!"

Greyhound premieres exclusively on Apple TV+ on Friday 10 July.

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