Tom Hanks Photography by Martin Schoeller
June 11, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks is heading down the Oscar-bait campaign trail once again as Viktor Navorski, the refugee hero of Steven Spielberg’s new comedy-drama-romance, ”The Terminal.” Picture a guy much like Robin Williams’ Soviet defector in ”Moscow on the Hudson,” except he never makes it past customs to Bloomingdale’s. Instead, poor Navorski gets stranded at New York City’s JFK Airport — a man without a country after a military coup voids all passports issued by his native land, Krakozhia. (No use fumbling for an atlas, since Krakozhia is a nonexistent, vaguely Balkan country; Navorski is only very loosely based on a real guy who’s been benching it at France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport for years.)

We sat down with Hanks for the skinny on working with Spielberg, future plans with Meg Ryan, and why, despite whisperings over the years that the box office champ’s a natural for elective office, he’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: With airport delays so widespread now, do people want to spend two hours on ”The Terminal,” watching someone else wait?
Hanks It’s funny, the whole movie in a lot of ways was at the mercy of the headlines. Originally, it didn’t have anything to do with a post-9/11 world. [And] we finished it before airport[s] became part of the Homeland Security Agency, or whatever it is.

When’s the last time you flew commercial?
I did fly to London to do [producing-directing on the HBO miniseries] ”Band of Brothers,” and was going through JFK. But in all honesty, not since then. Maybe on occasion here and there.

128 minutes
Chi McBride,
Kumar Pallana,
Dreamworks Distribution L.L.C.
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