Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Screenshot: CBS)

Sure, when Tom Hanks was on The Late Show on Thursday, it was to plug his Oscar-nominated (we’re just assuming) role as former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee alongside Oscar-nominated (again, safe bet) Meryl Streep in Steven Spielberg’s The Post. But lest America forget that, in addition to being the most beloved dramatic actor in the world and so on, Tom Hanks is also a prime goofball, he and host Stephen Colbert also recorded a delightfully silly bit during his visit that Colbert unveiled on Friday’s show.

Or “unboxed,” rather, as the pair set up the bit by bemoaning the fact that, despite their actual friendship, the whole guest-host late-night patter thing doesn’t allow for much on-air closeness. Enter the Late Show’s Personal Space! Rather, both men entered their heads into a cardboard box while a small camera captured their distinguished noggins in extreme close-up while they took turns asking each other some appropriately intimate questions. (With a mid-interview mint break, which only seems considerate.)


Serving to underscore how both Hanks and Colbert—despite their usual roles as liberal standard-bearers and respected performers—remain at heart a pair of gamely playful bing-bongs, the bit saw Hanks solemnly responding to some truly difficult either-or questions about his fictional roles’ relative heroism. (Apollo 13's Jim Lovell or The Post’s Bradlee? Woody versus Sully?) Hanks stood up under Colbert’s nose-kiss-proximity grilling admirably, even asking to remain in their shared, low-tech bubble for some extra face time, if you will. So Errol Morris can have his fancy Interrotron—let’s see his interview subjects cope with some real personal space like Tom freaking Hanks.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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