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10 Of The Best Directors Tom Hanks Has Worked With

Tom Hanks has been one of the most prolific and celebrated actors in the world since his back-to-back Oscar wins for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump in the early 1990s. Over the course of his decades-long career as an A-list movie star, Hanks has worked with such legendary directors as Robert Zemeckis, Mike Nichols, and the Coen brothers.

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From his long-time collaborations with Steven Spielberg and Nora Ephron to his one-time team-ups with Paul Greengrass and the Wachowskis, Hanks has forged working relationships with some of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood.

10 Paul Greengrass

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Noted for his shaky camerawork and fast-paced cutting, Paul Greengrass defined the iconic style of the Bourne franchise. His visceral, intense approach to filmmaking has made him a go-to director in the thriller genre.

Greengrass directed one of Hanks’ most moving performances in the true-life thriller Captain Phillips. Hanks plays the titular merchant mariner, who protected his crew from an attack by Somali pirates in 2009.

9 Robert Zemeckis

Forrest Gump Tom Hanks

Robert Zemeckis is the renowned filmmaker behind such gems as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Back to the Future trilogy. Hanks’ most notable collaboration with Zemeckis is Forrest Gump, the colorful 20th-century history lesson that earned him his second consecutive Best Actor win at the Oscars.

The two later reteamed for survival thriller Cast Away and festive animation The Polar Express, whose motion-capture effects fall into the “uncanny valley.” Hanks and Zemeckis are currently working on a live-action remake of Pinocchio for a 2022 release on Disney+.


8 The Wachowskis

The Wachowskis have been two of Hollywood’s most beloved filmmakers since they helmed The Matrix, the sci-fi action masterpiece that combines explosive spectacle with thought-provoking meditations on existence.

They cast Hanks alongside Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant in their ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, which they co-directed with Tom Tykwer.

7 Penny Marshall

Tom Hanks in Big

Although Penny Marshall is most famous for her role as Laverne DeFazio in the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley, she’s also a notable filmmaker. Marshall directed Hanks in 1988’s Big and 1992’s A League of Their Own.

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These are both widely adored cinematic gems. Big became the first movie directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office. A League of Their Own is praised as one of the greatest feminist movies of all time. It tells the story of the all-female baseball league that rose up while America’s men were fighting in the Second World War. Hanks plays the team’s manager, a bitter alcoholic ex-ball player, hilariously.

6 Jonathan Demme

Tom Hanks Quiz - Philadelphia

Jonathan Demme directed Hanks’ Oscar-winning performance in the groundbreaking, socially significant drama Philadelphia. This was the first major Hollywood movie to deal with the AIDS crisis.

Demme was mainly known for helming naturalistic comedies like Melvin and Howard and Married to the Mob until he swept the Academy Awards with his grisly serial killer thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

5 Ron Howard

Ron Howard is the director responsible for Hanks’ career as a movie star. After Hanks starred in the TV show Bosom Buddies, he earned guest spots on shows like Happy Days, which starred Howard.

Howard was inspired to give Hanks his first leading role when he directed the fantasy romcom Splash. Years after Splash launched Hanks to stardom, he and Howard reteamed for Apollo 13 and the Da Vinci Code trilogy.

4 Mike Nichols

With the double whammy of his directorial debut Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and his sophomore effort The Graduate, Mike Nichols became one of the pioneers of New Hollywood.

Nichols continued to helm acclaimed comedies of all kinds for decades, including Catch-22, Working Girl, and The Birdcage. He cast Hanks as the titular Congressman in his satirical political drama Charlie Wilson’s War.

3 Nora Ephron

After writing When Harry Met Sally for Rob Reiner to direct, Nora Ephron stepped behind the camera to helm some classic romantic comedies of her own.

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She paired up When Harry Met Sally’s Meg Ryan with a fresh-faced Hanks for not one, but two hit ‘90s romcoms. Hanks and Ryan made for perfectly matched romantic leads in both Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.

2 The Coen Brothers

Tom Hanks in Marlon Wayans in The Ladykillers

The Coen brothers are one of the quirkiest filmmaking teams in Hollywood. From goofy slapstick comedies like Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski to dark, grisly thrillers like Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men to masterpieces pitched somewhere in the middle like Fargo, the Coens are known for making wildly different movies that are all linked by their unmistakable sensibility.

Hanks played the lead role in the Coens’ remake of The Ladykillers, which switched the setting of the original 1955 Ealing classic to the Deep South.

1 Steven Spielberg

Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan

Hanks is one of the most frequent collaborators of Steven Spielberg. After first working together on the instant classic World War II epic Saving Private Ryan, Hanks and Spielberg reunited for crime caper Catch Me If You Can, heartfelt airport-set dramedy The Terminal, and Cold War legal thriller Bridge of Spies.

Most recently, Hanks and Spielberg worked on The Post, a Nixon-era love letter to the free press. They also co-produced WWII-related HBO miniseries like Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

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