Hollywood’s Most Decent Fella on Weinstein, Trump and History

And not only that. I will have to ask him about The Times’s first bombshell report about Harvey Weinstein, just published, and Hollywood’s guilty silence on the incendiary subject. What does Mr. Nice say have to say about Mr. Sleazy?

But the man is on a book tour, so first I needed to explore his fiction.

“Were you trying to be Chekhovian?” I ask.

“Boy, Chekhov just always goes right over my head,” he replies.

I confess that I don’t really know what that means, either, but a bookish friend had suggested I ask.

In profiles of Mr. Hanks, co-stars including Meg Ryan and Sally Field (Mama Gump) have made a point of saying that he is darker and more complicated and even more angry than you would imagine underneath that decent Everyman exterior, but he keeps it to himself.

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Mr. Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” directed by Nora Ephron, who was also its co-writer and co-producer.

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Warner Brothers Home Video

And it is interesting, given that Mr. Hanks and Rita Wilson are celebrated as the king and queen of Hollywood, that there is a strain of melancholy that runs through many of the stories about small-town characters.

In one, “A Special Weekend,” a 9-year-old named Kenny is being raised by his moody father and brisk stepmother in a Northern California town — with a throng of siblings and stepsiblings — because his mother, a pretty waitress, broke up with his father when Kenny was little. He gets to spend a birthday weekend with his mother, who arrives in a cloud of perfume, with red lipstick that matches her red roadster.

When Mr. Hanks was 5, living in Redding, Calif., his parents separated. His mother, a waitress, kept the youngest of the four children while Tom went with the other two to live with his father. He was playing with his siblings one night when he was told he had to go with his…

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