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Tom Hanks Comes Face-To-Face With Actor Who Claims He Fired Him For Having ‘Dead Eyes’ 22 Years Ago

Simon Fearn

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Tom Hanks Comes Face-To-Face With Actor Who Claims He Fired Him For Having ‘Dead Eyes’ 22 Years Ago

Featured Image Credit: Dead Eyes/Alamy

Tom Hanks, widely regarded as one of the nicest men alive, has been confronted by a man who claims Hanks fired him from Band of Brothers for having ‘dead eyes’.

Back in 2000, a fresh-faced Connor Ratliff landed a small speaking role as Private John S. Zielinski in the HBO miniseries, with Tom Hanks, an executive producer on the series, down to direct his episode.

However, disaster soon struck. Ratliff said the day before he was due to film he got a call from his agent saying Hanks was having second thoughts about having him in the episode. Apparently Hanks thought Ratliff had ‘dead eyes’.

Ratliff had to go and audition again in-person for Hanks, and was apparently shown the door shortly after.

Ratliff was so scarred by the experience, he later went on to launch the Dead Eyes podcast, dedicated to investigating his downfall at the hand of Hanks.

Tom Hanks reportedly fired Connor Ratliff for having 'dead eyes'. Credit: Alamy
Tom Hanks reportedly fired Connor Ratliff for having 'dead eyes'. Credit: Alamy

Just 22 years later, Ratliff finally got a shot at closure after landing an interview with Hanks on his pod, which aired yesterday (10 March).

So would Hanks 'fess up to being the author of Ratliff’s brutal early career setback?

Well, it turns out Hanks has no memory of the incident, but was still eager to take ‘full responsibility’ for Ratliff’s bad experience.

He said on the podcast (as per Too Fab): “Now, let me first take full responsibility for doing this to you.

“This was without a doubt the act of the director, and that was me.

“There was something that either stuck in a craw or was one of those very, very subtle sort of decisions that aims the story in the direction you want it to go.”

Ultimately, Hanks said the ‘dead eyes’ comment sounded like something he would say, but emphasised that what he said should never have found its way back to Ratliff.

Connor Ratliff's choice of a Captain Phillips tee perhaps indicates this is water under the bridge for him. Credit: Instagram/@connorratliff
Connor Ratliff's choice of a Captain Phillips tee perhaps indicates this is water under the bridge for him. Credit: Instagram/@connorratliff

He explained: “In the inner sanctum of whatever this casting session was, on Band of Brothers, I'm sure I said, 'I don't know man, that guy's got dead eyes'.

“I could've said, 'He's got too blond of hair'. I could've said, 'He's too tall and I can't have the aide be taller than Captain Winters'. I could've said, 'He's too short and slight'.

“And if someone had also said to me, 'Well, he's already cast'. I would've said, 'Well, can we replace him?'

“I would've said that. And I've done it and think it's been said about me on occasion as well."

Hanks added: "Whoever communicated to you what was said in the inner sanctum with such authenticity should have their kneecaps broken because that is not allowed.

“The inner sanctum is like the dugout, man. It's not quotable there. It's off the record."

Looks like Hanks might have clawed back his nice-guy image with his comment there.

You can listen to the full conversation on the Dead Eyes podcast.

Topics: Tom Hanks, TV and Film, Celebrity

Simon Fearn
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