Rejection hurts. We have all had some experience of being rejected by a romantic partner, bombing an interview, or being fired from a job. However, not many of us have had the experience of being fired by the most beloved man in the world, actor/America’s dad Tom Hanks. That is the experience of actor/podcaster Connor Ratliff. He was initially cast in the 2001 HBO World War II mini-series, Band of Brothers, and then was unexpectedly fired when Hanks reportedly watched his audition tape, citing that Ratliff had “dead eyes.” But while many of us would simply stew in rejection, Ratliff has made a podcast from the experience. And after three seasons, he has finally managed to snag Tom Hanks himself as a guest.
Connor Ratliff’s podcast is named Dead Eyes, aptly enough, and has had notable guests like Mad Men star Jon Hamm, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood. While the podcast was inspired by his firing at the behest of Tom Hanks and fundamentally acts as an examination of the host’s feelings and emotional crushing at the hands of Forrest Gump, it also works for guests to go through their own feelings of failure and rejection and how they have gotten through them. And even considering the pretty huge names Ratliff has managed to get for his show, Tom Hanks is one of the single biggest stars in the world (even if he weren’t the inadvertent inspiration for the podcast).
Reportedly, Tom Hanks learned that there was a podcast about how much he had destroyed the confidence of an aspiring actor from his daughter and one of his sons (probably not this one, though). Given that son and Fargo star Colin Hanks has actually been on the podcast and discussed how odd it is to be fired by someone with a reputation for being legendarily nice, it is safe to assume it was that particular Hanks son. Tom Hanks will appear on Dead Eyes for the season three finale, and reportedly will discuss his own feelings of show business rejection. A preview clip released had Hanks talking about how during the filming of his hit 1998 comedy Big, director Penny Marshall kicked him out of the editing room and told him he couldn’t stay because they were going to discuss all the things they didn’t like about him. Even for a movie star, that has to be pretty rough.
It probably does help Tom Hanks to know that he subsequently has had one of the most successful film careers in history, which shows no sign of slowing. Hanks is set to star in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann film Elvis, in which he will play legendary music impresario/real life historical villain Colonel Tom Parker. He also recently optioned a notable comic book to adapt to film, for which he will reteam with his Forrest Gump and Castaway director Robert Zemeckis. Hopefully, appearing on Dead Eyes will give both Connor Ratliff and Hanks some closure, though probably one of them needs it more than the other.