Tom Hanks: Diversity in films is hallmark of our professional responsibility

The Hollywood star said there was ‘no reason’ why big roles should not be played by people of colour.
Tom Hanks: Diversity in films is hallmark of our professional responsibility

By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Tom Hanks says that diversity in modern films is the “hallmark of our social and professional responsibility” and that it is important for them to “reflect the times” in which they are made.

The Hollywood star said there was “no reason” why big roles should not be played by people of colour and that the filming process was done in an “improved way… because of who we are now”.

Hanks stars alongside Cynthia Erivo and Luke Evans in Disney’s upcoming film Pinocchio, as the puppet-maker Geppetto, which is due for release on Disney+ on Thursday.

World Premiere of “Pinocchio”
Director Robert Zemeckis (left) and Tom Hanks arrive at the world premiere of Pinocchio (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The film is a live-action remake of the 1940 classic animated film, which was based on the 1883 Italian children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Speaking at the world premiere of the event in Burbank, California, Hanks said that to make the film “cast-member-by-cast-member the same” would have been “boring”.

“I think it is important to reflect the times in which we are making the movie, with increased diversity which I think is the hallmark of our social and professional responsibility,” he told the PA news agency.

“There’s no reason for the Blue Fairy not to be played by an African-American actor… so throughout the course of making the movie we were constantly aware of how it was better in an improved way just because of who we are now.

“If we were gonna go back and make it shot-for-shot, cast-member-for-cast-member the same, I think that would be boring.

“It’s better to do it like this.”

Erivo, who plays the Blue Fairy in the film, said it was “thrilling” to see increased on-screen diversity and that industry was now “a wider space that we can all be part of”.

“I think it’s really important… I grew up not seeing myself in things like this, not seeing us in fantasies and playing fairies and what not,” she told PA.

“As I was coming in (to the premiere) there were brown girls dressed up as fairies and it’s wonderful, it’s thrilling to see that people are included now.

“Because it’s not excluding anyone now, it’s saying ‘this is a wider space that we can all be a part of’ which is lovely.”

World Premiere of “Pinocchio”
Cynthia Erivo, who plays the Blue Fairy in the film, said it was ‘thrilling’ to see increased on-screen diversity (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The British actress and singer added that she had “loved the process” and being able to exercise her musical talent, singing the well-known song When You Wish Upon A Star.

“It’s a sweet spot role… I feel really lucky,” she said.

Pinocchio also stars Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as the voice of the eponymous puppet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his insect sidekick Jiminy Cricket, Keegan-Michael Key and The Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco.

It is directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis, with the screenplay written by Zemeckis and Chris Weitz.

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