“I do not have the skill that Fred had, which was to meet somebody and make it seem as though as if they’re the most important person in the world. Everybody that we met at KQED…they all said that ‘when you talked to Fred, you felt as though you were the most important person in the world.'”
Excuse me, but Hanks is talking about an elementary Hollywood skill that all successful actors are highly efficient at using for their personal benefit. It’s probably the second most essential skill in the game of creating a successful acting career, after knowing how to act. Many of them do it like absolute samurai pros.
I’ve been the recipient of this special kind of attention hundreds of times. Mostly from actors but sometimes from directors or producers. They look right into your soul and convey that you’re a special, fascinating, world-class person, and that your thoughts on whatever topic are truly spellbinding.
You know it’s an act, of course, but you can’t help feeling charmed and flattered.
Hanks is one of the absolute Zen masters of this routine. He’s one of the most likable human beings on the planet, and once you’ve sat in a hotel room with him for 15 or 20 minutes you become a lifetime convert.
Warren Beatty is another Yoda-like figure in this regard. I’ve never felt so enthralled and alpha-vibey as I did after Beatty and I had one of our first serious discussions back in…oh, ’92 or thereabouts. All he said was “how are ya?”, but the way he said it made me feel like some kind of inner lightbulb had been switched on. Even though I knew he was just turning it on like a gardener turns on a sprinkler system. Because he’s so good at it.