Prior to being cast in this film, Hanks was known primarily for his comedic talents, but was mostly unproven handling more serious material. That all changed after people saw Philadelphia, one of the first mainstream films to tackle issues of HIV and homosexuality.
Transitioning from comedy to drama is no easy task, but for him it was child’s play. Winning his first Oscar for this role, Hanks announced himself as a force to be reckoned with during this movie. Offering a realistic and heartbreaking portrayal of a man with AIDS in the early 1990s, Hanks’ Andrew Beckett is a sympathetic figure. Showing viewers an HIV-positive everyman that could easily be anyone watching, Hanks used his performance to help people change how they perceive those suffering from the disease.