a man playing the violin

Can Tom Hanks Play the Violin?

From wowing the audience with his jazzy moves on the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz in NYC to lip-syncing and dancing around in Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “I Really Like You,” Tom Hanks has made his love of music well known to his fans.

Yet, there are many things about the famous actor that we do not know, like can Tom Hanks play the violin? What about other instruments?

Tom Hank’s Background with Music

What a lot of people may not realize is that Hanks is also a fabulous director and producer of music-based movies and musicals. Partnered with Gary Goetzman, Hanks directed a film in 1996 called That Thing You Do, a movie about a 60s pop group. In the movie, he played a music producer.

Later, Hanks and Goetzman decided to found Playtone, a film and record production company that was named after the pop band’s record company in the film. In 2007, Hanks was the executive producer of the hit musical comedy Mamma Mia.

But he wasn’t just producing videos revolving around music. Take Disney’s Polar Express (2004), for example. Tom Hank’s character sings multiple songs, including the songs “Hot Chocolate” and “The Polar Express” theme song.

There is only one instance, however, where Hanks shows up wielding a violin — and it’s one movie that everyone seems to forget.

Throwback With a Red Shoe

Back in 1985, way before Hanks ever started dabbling in producing music and musicals or even dancing around in a toy store, he was cast for a role in The Man with One Red Shoe. In a #TBT trailer posted by 20th Century Studios, you see Hanks playing the violin in an orchestral scene.

In an old interview—one from 1984—Hanks talks about the character he plays in the movie. He says that the violinist “has tunnel vision. Unless he is focused on this one thing, music, he has the attention span of a lower life form.” That is why the violinist misses obvious signs that something underhanded is going on around him and ends up in the middle of chaos

So, the interviewer asked, “Do you play violin?” And he answered with a smile, “I do now.” Hanks explained that, for the role, he studied vigorously for one and a half months with someone from 20th Century Fox’s music team. After that short period, the talented actor could already play “Love Me Tender,” “Father Knows Best,” and even parts of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherezade.”

It makes you wonder if Tom Hanks can still play the violin after all these years. Or did he forget how to play once the filming was complete? There has been little evidence to suggest that he kept up the practice.

Does Tom Hanks Play Any Other Instruments?

We’ve established that Tom Hanks has only been seen playing a violin once on screen. Does that mean he has other instruments he prefers? There is evidence that Tom Hanks does love himself some guitar. He even showed up to the Jimmy Fallon Show in 2012 with an acoustic guitar. During that appearance, Hanks told Jimmy that he once thought he would be playing guitar with Bruce Springsteen, but that did not work out as planned.

Turns out, Springsteen had sent the offer to the wrong “Tommy.” It was meant for Rage Against the Machine’s Tommy Morello. So, Hanks and Fallon performed some slam poetry together while Hanks jammed on the guitar.

After the release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), the biographical film about Fred Rogers, it is obvious that Hanks plays the piano — at least a little.

Conclusion

Does Tom Hanks play the violin? Though there is evidence that Hanks once learned how to play, there is no telling whether or not he has continued on with the instrument. Since 1985, Hanks has shown an inclination for musical roles and production, but there have been no reports of him with a violin since The Man with One Red Shoe.

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Author

  • Valerie Taylor

    Valerie is a digital nomad who writes to travel the world. She is also a professional dancer, BJJ practitioner, personal fitness trainer, and yoga instructor. Her work is supported by an A.S. in Exercise Science and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Dance.

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