Actor Tom Hanks, who famously played a real-life moon astronaut, says he’d love to take a space excursion for real.
The “Apollo 13” (1995) movie star said he would even clean the toilets for a chance to go into space, such as on the NASA-led Artemis program missions that will bring astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972.
“I would like to be the guy in charge of serving food and making jokes to and from the moon,” Hanks, who boosted his early career in comedic roles, told The Telegraph. “If there was room, I would be the guy that cleans up, makes jokes, tells stories and keeps everybody entertained.”
“I’ll do all the work,” Hanks added. “I’ll clean the toilet. I’ll serve the food. I’ll fold clothes. I’ll stow the gear. That way the others could be free to do other stuff.”
Hanks was speaking amid the announcement of “The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks,” a new show at London’s Lightroom slated to open Dec. 6. Hanks co-wrote “The Moonwalkers” with writer-director Christopher Riley, a long-time documentary producer for the BBC, Netflix and PBS. The flick features interviews of Hanks with the Artemis 2 crew, who are flying to the moon no sooner than 2024, and images based on Andy Saunders’ book, “Apollo Remastered: The Ultimate Photographic Record (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2022).
Hanks’ 1995 acting role as Jim Lovell, the NASA astronaut commanding the real-life Apollo 13, drew critical praise when the movie first released. The film follows the journey of the three astronauts who survived an emergency while flying to the moon in 1970, and the family members and Mission Controllers who helped them from afar.
The movie was based upon Lovell’s biography with space journalist Jeffrey Kluger, originally called “Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13” (1994, Houghton Mifflin Co.) The film’s production garnered technical support from Apollo astronaut Dave Scott, while Lovell himself made a cameo at the end as the Navy captain welcoming the fictional astronauts as they came home.
Hanks’ new remarks about doing chores in orbit may stem from his decades of real-life research into space, as crews must take on such maintenance duties just as much as doing science and spacewalks. Healthy spacecraft and people are necessities to keep missions going; the story of Apollo 13 vividly illustrated what happens when these things aren’t present.
Hanks has said many times he was fascinated by the Apollo program, which sent 12 NASA astronauts to the moon’s surface between 1969 and 1972. He has since gone on to do many other space films and television shows, most recently the Wes Anderson flick “Asteroid City” (2023).
The Hollywood star is also known for co-producing “From the Earth to the Moon” (HBO, 1998), a fictional mini-series based on the Apollo missions, in which Hanks made a cameo, and narrating the Imax documentary “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D” (2005) about Apollo landings.
But Hanks gave praise for the new Artemis program, which will start flying humans to the moon again as soon as 2024. Four astronauts will make that round-the-moon journey: NASA commander Reid Wiseman, NASA pilot Victor Glover (the first person of color to leave Earth orbit), NASA mission specialist Christina Koch (the first woman to do so) and the Canadian Space Agency‘s Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American).
NASA has also pledged to land women and people of color on the moon; the first landing mission, Artemis 3, is expected no earlier than 2025 or 2026.
“Four people on Artemis are going to see the Earth rise over the moon and some of them are going to be a gender other than male,” Hanks said. “I think that says everything about the progress of humankind right there.”
“Apollo was men, men, men, men, men,” he added. “We need to send the absolute best people on Artemis and guess what? Some of them are going to be women.”