When Tom Hanks Delivered His Golden Globes Speech, He Couldn’t Hold Back His Tears

It’s fair to say that Tom Hanks is no stranger to winning awards. After all, the Hollywood icon has not only picked up two consecutive Oscars, but he’s also received a Kennedy Center Honor and a Presidential Medal of Freedom during his four-decade-long career. Those are just a few of the star’s many accolades, too. But Hanks certainly doesn’t seem to be blasé about accepting awards if his appearance at the 2020 Golden Globes was anything to go by. It was there, you see, that the actor delivered his most emotional acceptance speech to date – and his words left some in the assembled audience fighting to hold back the tears.

Yet, of course, Hanks is no stranger to collecting gongs at the Golden Globes. He won his first accolade at the ceremony in 1989 for his comedic performance in Big, for instance, while the star’s more dramatic mid-1990s turns in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump were similarly rewarded. And in 2001 Hanks scooped his fourth Best Actor award for his turn in Cast Away.

But while Hanks received yet another Golden Globes nod for his portrayal of Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, on this occasion the star lost out to Brad Pitt in the Best Supporting Actor category. That said, the man who has often been dubbed Hollywood’s nicest guy still got the chance to go up on stage on the night.

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Owing to his enduring big-screen success, you see, Hanks was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. This particular accolade is given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to stars who have had a significant impact on the industry, with previous recipients having included Denzel Washington, Steven Spielberg and Jodie Foster.

So, Hanks was called up on stage by Charlize Theron, whom the star had previously directed in his 1960s-based musical dramedy That Thing You Do!. And the actor could barely hold back the tears as he thanked those who had helped him throughout his career. What’s more, within minutes, many of Hanks’ peers were just as emotional.

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It should be noted, though, that Hanks wasn’t the only star in attendance who made headlines for what they said on stage. For instance, Joaquin Phoenix – whose performance in Joker saw him scoop the Best Actor in a Drama award – was one of several big names to speak up about climate change. During his acceptance speech, Phoenix implored those in the crowd to “take responsibility” in turning the fortunes of the planet around.

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And while Russell Crowe couldn’t make it to the ceremony to pick up his Best Actor in a Limited Series award for The Loudest Voice, he was still able to get a powerful message out about the bushfires that were devastating his Australian homeland. Reading Crowe’s words, guest presenter Jennifer Aniston announced, “Make no mistake: the tragedy taking place in Australia is climate change-based.”

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But alongside all the serious talk, the 2020 Golden Globes also had its more comical moments – with most coming courtesy of Ricky Gervais. Tasked with overseeing proceedings, the Office creator was arguably just as biting as he’d been during his four previous stints as ceremony host.

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A former Desperate Housewives star was one of the first to get it in the neck. “I came here in a limo, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman,” Gervais joked. This was, of course, an allusion to the actress’ stint in jail following her involvement in a college bribery scandal.

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Gervais also took a potshot at one of Hollywood’s golden boys, who has a reputation for liking much younger women. The host quipped, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere, and by the end his date was too old for him.”

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And Gervais also poked fun at political correctness during the ceremony. At one moment, for example, he joked, “We were going to do an ‘in memoriam’ section, but when I saw the list of people who had died this year, it wasn’t diverse enough. It was mostly white people. And I thought, ‘No, not on my watch.’”

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Gervais wasn’t the only star in attendance to bring the funny, however. With assistance from his translator, Bong Joon-Ho mocked those averse to foreign-language pictures after he had picked up a gong for his movie Parasite. The South Korean director said, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

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Brad Pitt also proved that he could be self-deprecating when he appeared on stage alongside his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-star DiCaprio to introduce a segment from their film. On that occasion, Pitt quipped, “When I asked Quentin [Tarantino] how he wanted us to play two aging movie guys who were on their way out, he said, ‘Just be yourselves.’”

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And Ellen DeGeneres – who was there to pick up the Carol Burnett Award – also had the audience in stitches with her deliberately clichéd speech. The openly gay star – who doesn’t have any children – joked, “I couldn’t have done it without my husband, Mark. Mark, you are my rock. Thank you for supporting me through this crazy journey. I know it wasn’t easy for you or the kids. Rupert and Fiona, go to bed!”

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By contrast, some celebrities chose to make more personal statements on stage. For example, Kate McKinnon – who presented DeGeneres with her award – spoke candidly about how she was empowered by the comedienne’s coming out. “[DeGeneres] risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it,” McKinnon said of the talk-show host. “If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBT people on TV.’”

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And Michelle Williams also spoke candidly when she picked up a Best Actress in a Limited Series gong for her turn as dancer Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Discussing abortion rights, the clearly pregnant star said, “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose – to choose when to have my children and with whom.”

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As for the actual awards, though, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was the big winner of the night. Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to 1960s Tinseltown picked up three gongs: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt. Rocketman, Joker and 1917 also received two awards apiece.

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In the small-screen categories, though, three very different shows shared top honors. The second series of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag earned two Golden Globes, as did HBO’s media dynasty drama Succession and the nuclear disaster biopic Chernobyl. And yet it was a man who already knew beforehand that he’d clinched an award who made perhaps the biggest impact on the night.

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That man was, of course, Tom Hanks. And the beloved actor couldn’t help but break down as he delivered his acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Yes, talking about his family moved the typically calm and collected star to tears.

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As many fans know, Hanks has been married to fellow star Rita Wilson since 1988. The pair had been first introduced to each other seven years prior when they both appeared in TV sitcom Bosom Buddies. And during a chat with GQ, Hanks revealed that he instantly felt a connection with the woman who would one day become his wife. He said to the magazine, “Rita and I just looked at each other and – kaboing! That was that. I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her, and it just couldn’t be denied.”

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Yet the pair didn’t immediately act on their obvious attraction to each other – not least because Hanks was already married at the time to actress Samantha Lewes. The couple also had a son, Colin, together, and they would go on to welcome daughter Elizabeth into the world in 1982. When Hanks and Wilson once again shared the screen in 1985 comedy Volunteers, however, things had changed.

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Indeed, although Hanks and Lewes only officially divorced in 1987, they had actually separated long beforehand. The actor subsequently entered into a relationship with Wilson, with the pair going public at the premiere of The Three Amigos. And then, in 1988, Hanks said “I do” for a second time.

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What’s more, in 2001 Hanks opened up about his marriage while talking to Oprah Winfrey. During the conversation, he revealed, “The success of [my and Wilson’s] relationship was a matter of timing, maturity and our willingness to have an intimate connection. When I married Rita, I thought, ‘This is going to require some change on my part.’”

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Hanks added, “I won’t deny that providence was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn’t magic – the way it’s shown in movies. In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here. Not that marriage doesn’t come close to being hell in a handbasket sometimes. But we both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other – and we’ll get through it.”

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Hanks also became a father for a third time in 1990, when Wilson gave birth to son Chester. And just like his half-brother Colin, Chester has similarly ventured into the acting world – most notably with a small role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Hanks and Wilson further added to their family unit with the arrival of son Truman in 1995.

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Plus, of course, the celebrity pairing have also occasionally made their relationship a professional one. In 1993, for instance, Hanks and Wilson appeared not as husband and wife but as siblings in Nora Ephron’s classic Sleepless in Seattle. Then, almost a decade later, they once again worked together as co-producers of hit rom-com My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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Hanks and Wilson faced arguably their biggest obstacle in 2015, however, when Wilson was told that she had breast cancer. Thankfully, she has since made a recovery following a double mastectomy. And the actress would go on to tell The New York Times that the support of her husband had helped greatly during her ordeal, revealing, “You never know how your spouse is going to react in a situation like this. I was so amazed, so blown away by the care my husband gave me… Who knew it would make you even closer?”

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It’s little surprise, then, that Hanks chose to pay tribute to his wife of 32 years when he accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2020 Golden Globes. And before the actor was presented with the accolade by Charlize Theron, the Bombshell star had nothing but kind words to say upon taking to the stage.

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Theron introduced Hanks by remarking, “While Tom does give us the chance to see ourselves on screen, he also presents a vision of who we could be. He stands for all the qualities we aspire to – both on screen and off. He gives us enough laughter to weather our storms.” Then, as a montage of scenes from movies such as Forrest Gump and Philadelphia played, Hanks made his way to the stage.

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And Hanks couldn’t stop himself from making a self-effacing remark about one of the TV shows featured in the run-down. He told the A-list crowd, “Most of the people in this room – I would pay to see them get their cars washed. But how many people in this room have a clip package that includes The Love Boat?”

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Hanks also gave a shout-out to those filmmakers who had pushed him to be the best at his craft. He said, “I have never not been challenged or flummoxed or lost sleep because of the work of the directors that I’ve worked with. Every single one of them… Every one of those guys at some point or another came up to me in the course of a day and said, ‘Tomorrow, if you don’t do your job really well, we don’t have a movie.’”

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However, things first got really emotional when Hanks started to talk about his personal life. Facing his children and his wife of more than three decades, he declared, “A man is blessed with a family sitting down front like that. A wife who is fantastic in every way, who has taught me what love is. Five kids who are braver and stronger and wiser than their old man.”

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“And [there’s] a loving group of people who have put up with me being away months and months and months at a time,” Hanks continued. “Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here if they didn’t have to put up with that. So I can’t tell you how much your love means to me. That’s the wife and kids.”

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And Hanks made the star-studded audience’s hearts melt even further when he began to choke up – although he claimed that his tears were down to a touch of the sniffles. The actor quipped, “It’s the cold that is making this happen. I swear to God, I’m not nearly this emotional at home.”

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Finally, Hanks concluded his heartfelt speech with yet more words of gratitude, saying, “Thank you all here. Thank you all for all your inspiration and all of your work and all of the struggle that you guys all go through in order to hit the marks and tell the truth. I have checked the gate. The gate is good. Thanks.”

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Yet this wasn’t the first time that Hanks had sung his wife’s praises on the Golden Globes stage. The star seemingly couldn’t stop talking about Wilson, in fact, when he accepted his first gong at the ceremony way back in 1989 for hit comedy Big. In that speech, Hanks began by referring to the European heritage of Wilson’s parents.

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A gushing Hanks told the A-list celebrity audience, “I married a Greek babe. She was born right here in California, right here in Hollywood, but her folks are great. She’s marvelous, Rita Wilson – thank you, babe, for marrying me. You made my year already, but thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press.”

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And when he won the first of his two consecutive Oscars, Hanks once again made sure that he thanked Wilson. In his Best Actor acceptance speech for Philadelphia, he said, “I could not be standing here without that undying love that was just sung about by not Bruce Springsteen, but Neil Young. And I have that in a lover that is so close to fine [that] we should all be able to experience such heaven right here on Earth.”

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Hanks was at it again the following year, too. Yes, after receiving the Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Gump, the star gushed once more about Wilson. Hanks told the audience, “I am standing here because the woman I share my life with has taught me and demonstrates for me every day just what love is.”

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Luckily, though, Wilson seems more than happy for Hanks to continue with his emotional outpourings. Speaking on the 2020 Golden Globes red carpet, the actress said, “I really feel that we have to have these celebrations in our lives. Everybody’s got ups and downs, but when the time comes around and we get to celebrate something – particularly [Tom’s] body of work – I think it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful for Tom, and it’s wonderful for our family.”

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