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The Iconic Role That Made Tom Hanks Physically Ill

Tom Hanks is an American treasure. Easily regarded as one of the all-time greatest actors of our time, he's always been admired and received accolades for the dedication he shows to his roles. After losing 26 pounds and thinning out his hair (via Vanity Fair), he won his first Academy Award for his role as Andrew Beckett in "Philadelphia" (via IMDb). 

For his role as the title character in the following year's "Forrest Gump," Hanks said, "We had to build this guy piece by piece," according to an interview the actor did with CBC Arts reporter Brian Johnson. In another interview about the film on The Graham Norton Show, Hanks said that because the boy who played young Forrest, Michael Conner Humphreys, had trouble copying Hanks' accent, the actor decided to copy the child's instead. Obviously, all his preparation paid off, because he won his second Academy Award for Best Actor for the role the following year, becoming only the second actor in history to accomplish this feat (via History).

Hanks' ability to melt into his characters' skin is clearly part of what draws audiences to his films. But is there ever a situation in which it's better to maintain distance from the role? Is there a point where getting too immersed in a film could cost you your life — or sanity? Hanks found the truth in this while filming another hit movie, "Cast Away."

A simple cut while filming Cast Away turned out to be a staph infection

While making "Cast Away," Tom Hanks spent virtually every day by himself. In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Hanks admitted that he lost touch with reality during filming, having no idea when the camera was on. "That movie was literally about physical action," he said, "and I don't even recall where the camera was set up." He remembered the various monotonous things he had to do while filming, such as go in and out of the cave, make a fire, try to open a coconut, and put a raft together. He did all these things, but didn't know when he was actually being recorded doing them, with Hanks saying, "It was just me, and the box, and the lens and the behavior."

Not only did Hanks lose touch with reality, but he also almost died. He'd spent so much of production crawling around in the sand and water that he cut his leg. Hanks didn't think anything of it until he ended up in the hospital, being scolded by the doctor. He told BBC's Radio 1 in an interview that "I was there for three days with something that, believe it or not, almost killed me," he revealed. "I got an infection from a cut and it was eating its way through my leg. I didn't know it, I just thought I had a sore" (via Digital Spy). We love Tom Hanks for his dedication to his work, but we don't want to lose him because of it. Hopefully his near-death experience on the set of "Cast Away" is enough to keep him from pushing it too far in the future.