Tom Hanks has been enjoying a whirlwind tour in Italy. After the world premiere of his new film, Inferno, last week in Florence, he's now in the Eternal City to accept the Rome Film Festival's lifetime achievement award. The fest is also screening a retrospective of the actor's many films, and he will hold a public forum with festivalgoers on Thursday evening.
Speaking to press before the event, the conversation quickly turned to politics.
Imitating an Italian journalist at a junket, he said he frequently gets the question "Why the Trump?" His response: "You're Italian. Why the Berlusconi?"
Hanks, who previously spoke out against Donald Trump's vulgar Access Hollywood comments and lack of experience, continued to share his unrestrained opinion of the election. "It strikes me as 'Crapfest 2016,'" he said. "Every four years, the circus comes to town in the United States. Every four years, we decide who's going to be the leader. Sometimes we're in an era when it seems that the country is at a crossroads - it's always at some form of crossroads. Oftentimes there is a fever pitch of fear and anxiety. Sometimes it's warranted, and other times it's manufactured."
But the two-time Academy Award winning actor doesn't think this is anything new. "I think without a doubt the world is going through something quite profound in which the future is shaky, in which the future is mysterious, in which great parts of the world are dealing with problems that seem as though they have no solution," he continued. "When America has faced those circumstances and times, we have never turned to a simplistic, self-involved gasbag of a candidate."
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For Hanks, an avid reader of history, he believes the Trump persona is one that frequently infiltrates American politics. "They are out there. They have been there. There has always been a Huey Long. There has always been a Wendell Willkie. There's always been a Herbert Hoover," he said of the 31st president.
"There's always been a Sen. Joseph McCarthy. There's always been some version of the current nominee of the Republican party that holds sway," said Hanks. "But we never invest our future with them. We have never done it, and we will not do it now."
For Hanks, he believes the solution to the "Crapfest 2016" is returning to truth. "There's an awful lot of ignorance that is promoted in any sort of campaign," he said.
But he acknowledged that this is a global problem, not one singular to the current election. "Ignorance is a commodity that can be sold and bought. There are people who maintain the status quo because they promote a brand of ignorance. There are people who maintain their power in the zeitgeist by promoting a brand of ignorance," he said. "When ignorance has prevailed, bad things have happened to the course of humankind."
But the conversation was not all political. Being in Rome, Hanks was of course asked which Italian director he would like to work with. "I think Roberto [Benigni] and I would be magnificent together," he replied. "I think it would be fantastic."