By Jack Wellington

With the current toxic political climate in America, The Post couldn’t be more relevant. A sharp, fast-paced retelling of the Pentagon Papers and the dilemma faced by those at the Washington Post, including editor Ben Bradlee and publisher, Kay Graham, it’s a simple reiteration of the Trump administration’s constant assault on the press – or as the president keenly likes to refer to it “fake news.”

Star Tom Hanks, who plays Bradlee in the film, agrees with the stark relevance.

“It’s as simple as making a movie based in 1971; we may as well be making a movie about what’s happening right now. All this time goes on, and nothing really changes.”

As Bradlee, Hanks delivers another tour de

force performance as a newsman pushed to the edge. As a movie star and two-time Oscar-winner, he’s a tried and trusted brand. One of the biggest box office draws in history, his image and views are all part of a carefully constructed business, one he’s not necessarily willing to tarnish by outwardly bashing the Trump administration.

But an ever-savvy media presence, the 61-year-old knows how to land a silent punch.

And in an interesting chat, the star delivers his withering take on the current presidency without getting his hands dirty-like only a true pro knows how.

Friendly and warm, Hanks discusses the freedom of the press, the cornerstone of democracy and why the truth is a powerful entity.

He also chats with us about working with Meryl Streep for the first time, the role of women in Hollywood and why he has finally turned his back on technology.

Hanks lives in LA with wife Rita Wilson. They share two children, Chet, 28 and Truman, 22. He also has two older kids, Colin, 41, and Elizabeth, 35, from his first marriage to Samantha Lewes.

STRIPLV: So you met Ben Bradlee. What was he really like?

HANKS: I met Ben and (wife) Sally for drinks, for cocktails and dinner with Nora Ephron and he’s exactly as you see him up there. Succinct, precise. Scintillating. There was no such thing as a casual conversation with him. It was exactly like his work, like his memoirs. He was genuinely sincerely interested in everything. And he was the quintessential, quote unquote newsman who loved the job and loved and lived for the business, and for the truth. His job was to find the truth, to put it out there and let people decide. Simple and clear. I remember meeting him; he said to me, “Tom, I always said, you gotta make sure what you put on the front page is the truth. Because if it isn’t, you’re going to be tasting it for a long time. And it doesn’t taste nice.” That had a powerful resonation. His passion for the truth, to go deep and discover the truth hidden deep underground in these secret vaults, putting it out there and on the record. The truth is what makes us great, the access to the truth, which is at the cornerstone of our democracy. The Nixon administration tried to alter the first amendment, the first point put down on paper by the founding fathers, and that’s monkeying around with our constitution.

STRIPLV: The liberal drive-by media is riddled with fake news. What’s your take on it?

HANKS: What the current administration is doing is maybe subtler than what happened to The Washington Post back then, because if they were to attempt to shut down, if they were to attempt to silence an organization today, it would be total consternation. What the current administration is doing is far more insidious in its assault. It’s putting the idea out there, that these are not the truths, and diluting the waters. It’s muddying the waters by delegitimizing the truth, and this is why when telling the truth in this form, there cannot be a sliver of question, a sliver of doubt. It has to be concrete and entirely encased. Because if not, it gives those opportunity to cease upon that and run with it. So journalism has to get it right. Because if you get it right, you can’t argue with, you can have a different opinion, but you can’t argue with it. The difference now is lies, and marketing and falsehoods exist side-by-side with the truth, promoting the adage, you can’t believe everything you read. And that is true beyond doubt. But there are also many things you must believe; you have to believe. There’s a lot of lies out there, that’s nothing new, there’s always been fake news, but the truth stands tall. And standing in the way of that truth being published and disseminated to a wider audience, which is a violation of democracy, that’s the center of this story.

STRIPLV: The timeliness of this movie is uncanny, the battle between government and press.

HANKS: It’s always going to be topical, isn’t it? With every administration, there is always a gauntlet laid down between Congress and the media; that will never change. It’s a constant tug of war. Obama experienced it, so did Bush, so did Clinton, now the current. (Laughs) There’s this push and pull between church and state. And yes, right now the press is under siege. We’re in the middle of a period in history where reason is being pummelled in a colossal assault never witnessed before. But the truth in its purest form is a powerful entity. This movie is timely not only in politicians lying and concealing the truth in order to curry favor, but also the position of women fighting for their position in the workforce. Issues that could not be more in the forefront of our public and individual consciousness.

STRIPLV: Did it allow you to reflect on the earlier stage of your career, when the fight for women’s rights in the workplace was beginning to intensify and how that reflects on today’s battle? And how can things finally change in Hollywood?

HANKS: I’m coming at it from a different angle, where there’s my own perspective on it because I have had many brilliant, direct, no bullshit bosses in Penny Marshall, Amy Pascal, Nora Ephron, Stacey Snider. I’ve had the good fortune of working for these women who have given me my break in my career, who have steered my trajectory. But simply put, there needs to be more women in these positions of power based on their meritocracy. When that happens, it will shift and displace the current imbalance and disorder plaguing industries. Parity at the top will change that. There’s a lot to be said, a lot of hope and optimism pinned on the millennial generation. From my personal experience in my own home, they are the generation who have grown up with an intentioned adherence and awareness of equality and moving forward; I see how their attitude will shape the state of the world and society for the better. I believe their generation interprets events, the events of today very differently from older people.

STRIPLV: Speaking of women in power, Meryl Streep, how the hell is this the first time you are both working together?

HANKS: It’s because I can’t sing or dance. If I could, we would have done Mamma Mia. I auditioned but was coldly turned away.

STRIPLV: Were you really?

HANKS: No. (Laughs) But you clarified that. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: I read you said she was “high maintenance.”

HANKS: I stand by that! What a nightmare. (Laughs) I’m not going to say diva but, draw your own conclusion. What I learned from working with the greatest talent ever committed to celluloid is she does it just like everyone else. She carries trepidation, nervousness about how it’s all going to work. She actually chastised me for not forewarning her that Steven doesn’t do rehearsals. And inherently chasing an undiscovered timbre within the script, sitting down with her to do that, I learned Ms. Streep does it like everybody else does and unlike anybody else can. What am I saying, she is the greatest actor, her work stands for itself. Nobody can touch her. The intimidation factor is real. I half thought I thought trumpets would announce her arrival every day. Little let down if I’m honest. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: Has this film made you see the media in a different light or how you absorb your news?

HANKS: It didn’t but then I recently altered how I receive my news by turning away from digital and relying solely on print. I need tangible, physical copy in my hands because only then can I hone my attention on something pinpoint.

STRIPLV: Why, when it’s the “way of the future” and all that?

HANKS: Well I had every app, every news update bombarding my phone, my computer, and they are constant. And because of the volume coming at me, I never read more than headlines, more than a quick scan. And therefore, missing the point, missing so much. So The New York Times, cover to cover, every morning. It used to be my morning ritual, technology interfered, and now, I have thankfully gone back. It works for me. I would prefer to be more informed about particular news events, fully informed, rather than knowing about everything but having a shallow understanding.

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