If you stay obsessed with pop culture long enough, at some point in your life you become aware of the at least semi-artificial nature of things like talk shows, red carpet interviews, and press junkets. If an actor is promoting a big blockbuster, they're usually not saying what they're saying entirely off the cuff. An entire publicity team has prepared talking points, told them which topics to embrace and to avoid, and generally prepared them to hype the movie in a spoiler-free way.
This isn't necessarily a problem, because some actors can work within those talking points to create something that feels natural, fun, and charming. Or, if you're Tom Hanks, you can just blow up a Disney publicist's whole evening by taking the talking points out and waving them around on a talk show.
Hanks was on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday nigh to promote Toy Story 4, the latest in a tremendously popular series of films that he's been starring in for nearly 25 years. Hanks is a veteran actor and a veteran of the talk show circuit, and he's always been at his best on shows like Kimmel when he's able to show the audience that he's often just as baffled and delighted by the trappings of his often-strange job as they are.
For example, Hanks mentioned he'd been recording dialogue for Toy Story 4 for years, but he didn't even know certain supporting actors were in the film because he'd never seen them in the both. It was only at the film's premiere this week that he was able to say hi to certain co-stars like the great Carl Weathers.
"I didn't know he was in it, because we never see each other," Hanks said. "We maybe will run into each other when somebody's session finishes and the other person is there waiting to go on, but at the premiere I saw Carl Weathers and I had to go shake the man's hand because not only was he Apollo Creed. He was Action Jackson!"
Kimmel then mentioned that the film's promotional machine has been keen to keep spoilers out of the press, and Hanks replied that he was worried he may have already let some things slip, and the reason he knew he may have let some things slip was because he had a stack of pages from Disney in his pocket. Hanks then pulled out the talking points given to him by the film's publicity team, waved them around, made a joke about spilling tomato juice on them, and started to read from the spoilers section, humming over the words he couldn't say.
"They also give you sample questions, which you have yet to ask, my friend," Hanks joked, before moving on to one of the film's most important talking points: The return of Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts.
"Bo Peep should be described as a strong character from the beginning," Hanks read. "Her recent experience perhaps made her stronger, but she was never a weak character."
Hanks' flouting of the Disney PR machine on live television (though he did play by the rules and avoided reading spoilers) is similar to Mark Hamill's recent assertion that he enjoys making fake spoiler jokes about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker because "What are they gonna do, fire me?" and it's perhaps even more delightful to watch, because Hanks' comedy chops allow him to work the bit for all he can get. And, because he's America's Dad Tom Hanks, he can get away with it.
"Do you know how many executives right now want to kick my ass because I brought this out?" Hanks asked as he put the pages away.
Toy Story 4 is in theaters June 21.