Have a conscience when it comes to Covid-19, pleads Tom Hanks
After recovering from Covid-19, US actor urges public to wear masks and stop spread of the disease, as he promotes his World War II drama Greyhound, set for release this week on streaming platform
Tom Hanks has a public service announcement to make about Covid-19.
And when the "nicest guy in Hollywood" and "America's favourite movie star" talks, you listen.
The 63-year-old actor said: "Honestly, there are three things. Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands. There is no human being with a conscience that can't manage that if they want to."
Hanks, who was teleconferencing from his home in Los Angeles to promote his new movie Greyhound, then turned around what appeared to be a scarf he was wearing and it is actually a face mask.
Fans will remember he was the first celebrity to publicly announce, on March 11, that he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, tested positive for the coronavirus when they were in Australia for the Elvis Presley film directed by Baz Luhrmann, and it is likely that made a lot of the public take it seriously.
But perhaps not seriously enough.
At the time, there were a little over 1,000 confirmed cases and not much more than 30 deaths in the US.
Today, infections are surging across the country and breaking records daily. The tally of confirmed cases is now approaching three million, with around 130,000 deaths.
Since his successful recovery from 10 days of uncomfortable but not life-threatening symptoms, Hanks had posted on Instagram that he donated his plasma to help in the fight against Covid-19.
There was a time when folding laundry wore him out so much, he had to take a nap on the couch.
He said: "The reality is that (the virus) is a great equaliser and no one is safe. I wake up every day and consider myself extremely blessed that I have a level of security and safety that not a lot of people can count on. I was the canary in the coal mine for some of this."
He added: "One of the reasons we were isolated for three days (in Australia) was to keep an eye on our health, lungs, breath, blood levels, oxygenation, heart rates, everything.
"The other reason was so that we would not give the Covid-19 virus to anybody else."
Hanks may be back on track, but his latest World War II drama was not so fortunate.
The history buff wrote the screenplay for Greyhound - in which he plays yet another captain, this time a US Navy Commander - originally for Sony Pictures.
However, the pandemic has thrown all release schedules for a loop and shuttered cinemas around the world, and it will now premiere exclusively on Apple TV+ on July 10.
Describing the decision to release Greyhound on a streaming platform as heartbreaking, Hanks said: "The hardest aspect was that it will not have that cumulative effect on 600 or 800 people at any given time.
"When you are in a movie theatre, it is huge, it looks and sounds perfect, and you are sharing the experience with a bunch of strangers.
"But whatever disappointments I have that it is not playing on a huge screen somewhere is bordered by the news that I am glad that a broader audience is going to see this thing.
"If I had my way, this thing would have been on the CBS Sunday Night Movie or something like that, so anybody could have seen it. But those finances just don't exist."
INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS
Based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd and inspired by true events, the story is of a naval battle in a no man's land called the Black Pit in the Atlantic Ocean, a zone that has no air cover.
Set in 1942, Hanks' Commander Ernest Krause leads an international convoy of 37 Allied ships carrying thousands of soldiers and supplies from the US to the UK when they are attacked by German U-boats.
He started writing Greyhound - which refers to the USS Keeling destroyer Krause commands - seven years ago as a labour of love, but when he showed it to others, no one saw the movie he had in his head.
He said: "It was frustrating to a degree, but I understood. The worst beginning to any motion picture process is an actor who has written something for himself - that is disaster. Nobody wants to do that. It is always self-serving; they are always too precious about it."
The conversation then shifted to politics as the US is four months away from a crucial election and a Donald Trump-Joe Biden showdown.
Hanks paused to hunt for a quote that he had written down that he felt fits the moment.
He said: "(Irish philosopher) Edmund Burke said the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
"I don't necessarily want to parse out the word evil, but I think periodically the US gets the government that it deserves. It gets the leaders that it chooses, and then we have to judge them by the track record.
"Everybody understands that the most important election of our lifetimes is always the next one, they have consequences.
"I don't even have to look this one up, but you will find a quote that says he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind. Well, I think the whirlwind is coming."
The writer is the chair of the board of directors of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards