Tom Hanks and Henry Winkler physically fought on screen during an episode of Happy Days. But did you know the pair have a real-life feud going on as well? Yep, even though Hanks has the ultimate Hollywood-nice-guy reputation, he actually has a hater. Yet the rift wasn’t caused by his Happy Days role. It started years later when Winkler was directing the star in the movie Turner & Hooch. And one off-screen moment has left its mark on Winkler for over 30 years.
This is all the more surprising considering the reputation for kindness that Hanks has built up. It has been cemented by the various good deeds he’s carried out over the years, too. On one occasion, for example, Hanks met an autistic fan who had collected press cuttings and images of the actor in a scrapbook. And Hanks appeared authentically bowled over by Sarah Moretti’s efforts when the pair bonded backstage at a Broadway theater.
Two years previously, Hanks had also offered two disgruntled fans $25 after hearing how much they disliked one of his films. The star got talking about Larry Crowne to a couple at a gas station, as they believed that the 2011 comedy-drama “wasn’t that good.” And instead of getting offended, Hanks supposedly responded, “Gee, I’m sorry you were disappointed. How about letting me refund your ticket money?”
Hanks further proved his character in 2015 by helping a bunch of Girl Scouts to sell cookies. Yes, when the actor spotted the girls trying to earn some extra money in Los Altos, he didn’t just pass them by. Instead, Hanks bought two crates of cookies himself, offered a $20 tip and took the time to join the group on their fundraising efforts.
And then there’s the moment when Hanks made one happy couple’s wedding day just that little bit more special. When happening across the bride and groom during a run in New York’s Central Park in 2016, the star agreed to stop for pictures. He also had no qualms about talking to guests before continuing with his exercise.
Plus, Hanks is just as renowned for being sweet-natured with his Hollywood co-stars. Indeed, after working with Hanks on 2017’s The Circle, Emma Watson couldn’t stop gushing about the actor. She told E! News, “He’s so generous and funny and easy-going, and he’s all the things you would want him to be.”
Ron Howard – who’s worked with Hanks on Splash and Apollo 13 – also had good things to say about the star. Speaking to The Sun in 2017, he said, “I’d be lying if I said I’m not always looking for something we could do together… He’s always been grounded, centered, funny, smart and talented, but [he’s] also someone who has a reasonable sense of the world and his place in it.”
And owing to their work together on Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan may know Hanks better than any of his other co-stars. Perhaps we should take Ryan at her word, then, when she told Vanity Fair in 2016, “I really admire [Hanks]. He’s just easy to be around, and that’s a big compliment because he’s so smart. He’s kind, and he gets people.”
Yet few would have anticipated Hanks becoming a bona fide film legend off the back of his big-screen debut. After honing his craft at California State University, the aspiring actor landed his first movie role in 1980’s He Knows You’re Alone – and the no-frills horror was slaughtered by critics. The Los Angeles Times even went so far as to describe the film as “no more than just another by-the-numbers piece of sickening trash.”
Thankfully, Hanks soon graduated to less ill-considered fare. He took a lead part in Mazes and Monsters – a TV movie based on role-player gaming – before playing Callimaco in a production of The Mandrake. After that, Hanks bagged his first major recurring role as cross-dressing advertiser Kip Wilson on the ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies.
And Hanks’ career went truly stratospheric after Ron Howard cast him as a man who becomes the object of a mermaid’s affections in 1984’s Splash. That same year, the actor also enjoyed box-office success with bawdy comedy Bachelor Party, and he continued to showcase his funny bones in the likes of The Money Pit and Dragnet.
Then, in 1989, Hanks picked up the first of many Academy Award nominations with his charming performance in Big. Unfortunately for the star, though, his next few releases failed to capitalize on this critical acclaim. Yes, The Burbs, The Bonfire of the Vanities and Joe Versus the Volcano all met with lukewarm reactions from both reviewers and audiences.
Hanks managed to get back on track in 1992, however, by playing a baseball coach in hit sports dramedy A League of Their Own. Then, after reuniting with Meg Ryan for rom-com classic Sleepless in Seattle, the actor surprised everyone with the demanding role of an AIDS-stricken lawyer in Philadelphia. But this proved to be an inspired move.
After all, for his efforts, Hanks picked up Best Actor at the Academy Awards – a feat that he would repeat just a year later following his turn as the eponymous hero of comedy-drama Forrest Gump. This made Hanks only the second person to win two consecutive gongs in the category after Spencer Tracy in the late 1930s.
Hanks’ golden streak continued when he portrayed real-life astronaut Jim Lovell in 1995 space disaster movie Apollo 13. And later that same year, he took on yet another career-defining role – albeit one that didn’t involve him actually being on screen. The Pixar-animated Toy Story – in which Hanks famously voices Woody –introduced the actor to a whole new generation as well as ultimately kickstarting a run of hits for the studio.
Hanks broadened his horizons, too, by taking the director’s chair for the first time to shoot That Thing You Do! – a charming dramedy about the rise of a Beatles-esque pop group. The multi-talented actor also co-penned, co-directed and executive produced From the Earth to the Moon. The ambitious 12-parter explored the history of the U.S. space program to Emmy-winning effect.
And Hanks’ remarkable screen run continued with Steven Spielberg’s war epic Saving Private Ryan, along with a third film with Meg Ryan called You’ve Got Mail. He finished the ’90s in style, too, with a powerful turn in Stephen King adaptation The Green Mile and a return to the Toy Story franchise. But, of course, the veteran actor’s success would continue well into the next century.
In 2000 a near-unrecognizable Hanks essentially had to carry the entirety of desert island tale Castaway on his shoulders; fortunately, by many accounts, he more than rose to the occasion. He then returned to the war genre, helping to produce and direct Band of Brothers – a HBO series that would go on to pick up countless Emmys. And in 2002 he played against type as a villainous hitman in graphic novel adaptation Road to Perdition.
Two more Spielberg collaborations – Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal – added to Hanks’ list of box-office smashes. He also enjoyed success with the Coen brothers’ The Ladykillers, animation The Polar Express and thriller The Da Vinci Code. Hanks would later reprise his role as Robert Langdon in two further Dan Brown adaptations: Angels and Demons and Inferno.
Then, after taking center stage in the Aaron Sorkin-penned Charlie Wilson’s War, Hanks shared the screen with his son Colin in The Great Buck Howard. He also went on to voice Woody the cowboy once again in Toy Story 3. But even a star of Hanks’ caliber isn’t immune to the odd misstep, as he proved with the critically and commercially underwhelming Larry Crowne.
And even though Hanks’ movies Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Cloud Atlas similarly debuted to tepid reviews, that wasn’t at all the end for the actor’s long career. In fact, he became a critical darling once again in 2013 with Saving Mr. Banks – in which he portrayed none other than Walt Disney himself – and Captain Phillips.
More than 30 years into his career, though, Hanks branched out yet again by taking to the Broadway stage for the first time in 2013’s Lucky Guy. Then, two years later, he teamed up with Spielberg yet again on Bridge of Spies. And in 2016 he portrayed heroic pilot Chesley Sullenberger in the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic Sully.
After starring opposite Emma Watson in The Circle, Hanks subsequently revisited the Toy Story world for the fourth time. During this point in his career, he also took on the role that he was perhaps born to play more than any other. Yes, in biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hanks portrays Fred Rogers – who famously remains one of American television’s most beloved entertainers.
Hanks shows no signs of slowing down, either, as he enters his mid-sixties. Movie-goers will soon see him play Commander Ernest Krause in war movie Greyhound and the world’s last male survivor in sci-fi BIOS. Hanks is also confirmed to appear in Paul Greengrass’ News of the World and is tipped to portray Elvis Presley’s manager Tom Parker in a movie directed by Baz Luhrmann.
It’s true, too, that throughout Hanks’ glittering and enduring career, there’s barely been a harsh word said about the actor. Yet there is at least one former colleague who seems unlikely to have Hanks on his Christmas card list. And it’s none other than Happy Days’ iconic cool dude the Fonz – a.k.a. Henry Winkler.
Rumors that the two nice guys had become unlikely nemeses first began to surface in 1989. Before that, Winkler had signed up to direct comedy Turner and Hooch, which sees Hanks star as a detective who forges a heartwarming bond with a slobbering French mastiff. It seems fair to say, though, that Hanks didn’t develop much of a connection with Winkler.
You see, after a mere 13 days of shooting, Winkler was dropped from the project, with Roger Spottiswoode quickly taking his place. And the unsubstantiated gossip surrounding the matter has suggested that Hanks was to blame for Winkler’s dismissal. In fact, the former Happy Days star has even gone on to add fuel to that particular fire.
Chatting to People magazine in 1993, Winkler implied that relations between him and Hanks hadn’t been particularly smooth. He said, “I got along better with Hooch than I did with Turner.” Then in 2019 the actor again got tongues wagging during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
Winkler’s brief stint on Turner and Hooch was brought up on the show by a fan, who asked, “What was the real reason why you and Tom Hanks didn’t get along on the set of Turner and Hooch? And did you ever wind up seeing that movie?” It was a question that appeared to catch the host off guard.
“Is that a thing?” a surprised Cohen asked his 73-year-old star guest. Winkler initially dodged the question, too, by cupping his ear and joking, “What did you say?” When the actor finally gave a proper response, however, he soon suggested that there had been definite tensions on set with the man dubbed Hollywood’s nicest guy.
Winkler also recalled the moment when he had discovered his services were no longer required. He told Cohen, “I was directing that movie for 13 days. And then I was called into [former Walt Disney Studios chairman] Jeff Katzenberg’s office, and he said ‘Do you have everything with you? Go home.’”
Furthermore, although Winkler didn’t explicitly mention Hanks’ name, his following remarks implied that they’d had some sort of beef during filming. Referring to Beasley – a.k.a. the movie’s lovable canine star Hooch – the actor said, “I got along great, great… with that dog.” He then jokingly added, “That dog… love that dog.”
And Winkler also refused to answer the fan’s far more innocuous question directly. Yes, we’re still none the wiser as to whether the actor has ever had the pleasure of watching Turner and Hooch in its entirety. Instead, Winkler simply replied, “I don’t remember the title of that movie.”
Perhaps Winkler and Hanks were always destined to become long-time foes, though. You see, one of Hanks’ early 1980s roles actually saw him guest star on Winkler’s hit show Happy Days. And, rather ironically, his character Dr. Dwayne Twitchell ends up getting in a physical fight with the beloved Fonz during the episode.
Nevertheless, this apparent feud is rather out of character for Winkler, as he also has a reputation for being a good guy. In fact, in 2013 veteran showbiz reporter Pat Gallagher named the Happy Days star as one of the nicest men he’d ever interviewed. “It’s just hard to not to want to jump through the phone and give him a reasonable but gentle bear hug,” Gallagher wrote of the actor.
And Winkler’s decent rep goes beyond being courteous in interviews, as he actually once helped to save a suicidal teen’s life – an incident that the star later recalled during a 2019 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Apparently, a member of law enforcement in Illinois requested that Winkler help calm the 17-year-old down, as he was threatening to leap from a height.
Winkler was rehearsing for an episode of Happy Days at the time, and naturally this hadn’t been part of his plan that day. When talking to Kimmel, the star even added, “I don’t know where I got the nerve to take the phone and start talking to this kid.” Luckily, though, his efforts worked. Yes, the sitcom star managed to persuade the budding actor – who’d become depressed about his stalling career – that life was worth living.
Then there’s the fact that Winkler has helped dyslexic teens learn to read through a series of books. The actor – who suffers from the learning disability himself – specifically penned the novels for an audience who are rarely catered for elsewhere. In 2014 he proudly told The Guardian, “Kids who have never read before – reluctant readers – can read my books.”
However, in a 2018 interview with GQ, Winkler revealed that he doesn’t particularly see himself with a halo above his head. He told the magazine, “Here’s the thing. I don’t think about being a good guy or a nice fellow or whatever. I just am grateful to be on the… Earth.”
Still, regardless of how Winkler sees himself, many others look upon him as a good person. And the same goes for Tom Hanks, for that matter. It’s a shame, then, that the pair don’t seem to hold each other in as high regard as others do for them.