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 PAST ISSUES
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star struck

Hanks for everything
Audiences get a double dose of the popular star this winter
By Chris Betros

Tom Hanks reckons he knows what his character in The Terminal must have felt like. Recently, he came to Japan to promote that film; then 10 days later, he was back again for The Polar Express. "I stayed in the Narita terminal all that time and got a train back to Tokyo," he joked. In The Terminal, directed by Steven Spielberg and co-starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hanks plays an East European traveler named Viktor who finds himself stuck at JFK airport in New York City just as a coup is taking place back home. His passport is no longer valid and he is forced to take up residence in the terminal for several months, befriending the airport staff and irritating the bureaucrats.

Hanks, 48, said the experience of making the film has made him look differently at airports whenever he is passing through them. "Maybe we should go to the airport for a holiday, don't fly anywhere. Just stay there for two weeks, eating, shopping," he said. But he still feels trepidation each time he approaches the immigration counter. "I'm always worried that my papers aren't in order. They never smile when they say 'Passport please.'"

One of Hollywood's most prolific actors and a dual Oscar winner, Hanks has worked nonstop for the past 18 years. "I feel like I'm having the greatest time in the world. I'm still waiting for maturity to kick in." That is evident in The Polar Express, an animated feature based on a 29-page picture book by Chris Van Allsburg and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It's the story of a young boy who is awakened on Christmas Eve by a steam train that pulls up in front of his house and takes him and other children to the North Pole to meet Santa. Hanks gets to play six characters thanks to a new technique called "performance capture." What that means is that sensors were taped to each actor's face and body, their facial expressions and movements were recorded, and used as guidelines for the animators.

Hanks said he approaches all his roles in basically the same way. "As an actor, I have an instinctive thrust. I just imagine the part in my head, show up and do it. I'd hate to be a director like Steven or Bob [Zemeckis]. They have to communicate their ideas to everybody on the set." His next project will be the lead in Ron Howard's film version of the best-selling mystery novel, The Da Vinci Code. "I guess my choices reflect my own taste in cinema. I like being surprised by films and I like to recognize myself in a character somewhere," said Hanks, who recently revealed in Variety magazine that he is a descendant of Abraham Lincoln through his family roots in Kentucky and Tennessee. CB

Photo credit: Chris Betros

 

 

the scene

Once Caldas Tribute

The Colombian soccer team meets its fans for a pre-Toyota cup bash at Yokohama's tycoon restaurant

Clockwise from top-left: Defender Jhon Edwin Garcia (r) and midfielder Diego Arango; defender Roller Cambindo; head coach Luis Fernando Montoya; star goalie Juan Carlos Henao; team physician Carlos Alberto Osoriol; Colombian Ambassador to Japan Fransisco J. Sierra and his wife Luz de Sierra

 

q&a
Sam Arnold

Tennis and basketball players in Tokyo will almost certainly know former tennis pro Sam Arnold. The 35-year-old Aussie has been running his tennis and basketball academy in Setagaya for the past dozen years or so. Currently, there are 320 active members of all nationalities. Before coming to Japan, Arnold also dabbled in acting alongside such heavy hitters as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson.

Tell us some famous people you coached.
Former President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush's brother Neil, Mel Gibson, Olivia Newton-John, Dustin Hoffman, Arnold Schwarzenegger's children and Barry Bonds.

How did you get involved in acting?
I was teaching tennis in 1991 to Jason Priestley at his home in Santa Barbara. It started raining halfway through the session, so I mentioned to him that I would need to find alternative employment to supplement my income through the winter. He contacted his agent in Burbank and it started from there.

What movies have you been in?
I played a cop in Lethal Weapon 4. I then had a small part in Blast From the Past. I was an altar boy in Arnold Schwarzenegger's End of Days. I also had regular roles on Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210.

What are you doing now?
I'm expanding my tennis academies throughout Asia. I have three clubs, in Beverly Hills, Tokyo and Hong Kong, with a new club set to open in Omiya in January.

Has anyone famous ever shown up?
Wynton Marsalis joined us for a game of basketball while he was here on tour.

What do you think of the general level of Japanese tennis players?
Unfortunately, many Japanese players have adopted poor technique from learning soft-tennis during their high school years. As a result, most Japanese players have the ability to rally and play consistently at a recreational level, but are not mentally tough enough to win Grand Slam events.

Seen anything exciting since you've been in Japan?
Last year, outside my apartment, two drunk Japanese got into a fight. After the police arrived, one of the men brandished a huge knife. In a bid to divert the cops, his girlfriend removed her shirt and bra, then ran down the street totally naked, with about 15 police chasing her. CB

For tennis and basketball enquiries, email satatokyo@hotmail.com or visit http://www.geocities.com/satatokyo



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