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THE TERMINAL

The Passengers
Even before Spielberg decided to occupy the director's chair, Tom Hanks had signed on to portray Viktor Navorski, the man without a country who must make a home for himself in "The Terminal.”

"I read the screenplay and thought it was almost too good to be true,” Hanks states, adding that anyone who has touched down in a foreign country might relate in some way to Viktor's plight. "I don't think any human being who has been to a land where they don't speak the language—or even if they do—has not felt that complete disenfranchisement. I remember the first time I went overseas, I felt incredibly, immediately self-conscious. I was nervous about approaching anybody…never mind having problems with your papers and with immigration and the Homeland Security Department and whatnot. So, yes, I think his situation is very relatable.”

Hanks goes on to say how Viktor's predicament is not so far outside the realm of possibility, given the current security climate at our airports. "You can understand particularly how it could happen now: Somebody comes in from a different country where something terrible has happened and so, for all intents and purposes, his country doesn't exist. His papers are no good and the Homeland Security Department isn't about to say, ‘Well, enjoy your stay in New York City.' The airport is supposed to be the doorway to the world where people are checked in, but in this case Viktor is checked, and he's no good. He can't come in and he can't go home because those borders are sealed.

"What I liked about the screenplay is that Viktor comes to understand what's at stake,” Hanks continues. "He understands the way the world works in this case. There is no point in him railing against the state, because it's too big for him to conquer by himself, so while he's here, he will make the best life that he can for himself.”

Jeff Nathanson adds, "Viktor's life in his little village in Krakozhia could never have prepared him for something like this. He starts out as someone who desperately wants to get to New York City, but who will not cheat or break the law to do it. He wants to leave the airport when he's allowed to go, and he will wait until he's allowed to go.”

In the meantime, Viktor not only builds a life but a home in the terminal, complete with friends, employment and even a little romance. "Even though Viktor's physical world is in limbo, his emotional world is not,” Hanks notes. "He keeps moving forward. He's not sitting there like a lump, saying ‘Oh poor me.' He actually goes on something of an emotional journey in order to experience all that America has to offer.”

Parkes observes, "If you look at the body of Tom's work, there is a little thread of characters dealing with isolation, whether an intellectual one like Forrest Gump, or a physical one like a castaway on an island. I think the idea of Viktor as a man stranded in America—a stranger in a strange land—appealed to him on that level.”

Interestingly, although Hanks' character was confined, Spielberg says that he turned in one of the more improvisational and physical performances of his career. "Of all the movies we've done together, this was the most inventive I've ever seen Tom be on the set. He really brought things to the character that weren't in the script or in my imagination, things no one was expecting. After those scenes in which he'd do something extraordinary, I would ask him, ‘When did you come up with that?,' and he'd say ‘About 10 minutes before you said ‘action.' He was just vamping so many amazing moments…not just moments, but whole ideas about his character. He was also very physical with his body. He slips, he falls, he spins around, he can't get comfortable in a chair… But it wasn't Tom Hanks; it was how he saw Viktor Navorski, and what he brought to the character.”

Nevertheless, Spielberg is quick to point out, "Viktor is not a buffoon. In fact, he's a very<

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