Tom Hanks on getting grumpy in 'A Man Called Otto,' casting son … – USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES – Tom Hanks brings a double helping of crotchety to his role in “A Man Called Otto.”
Truthfully, it’s initially jarring to see the universally anointed Nicest Guy In Hollywood, who won an Oscar as guileless Forrest Gump, transform into Otto the Grump.
But to the grump skeptics, Hanks, 66, explains he’s had years of preparation for the role just dealing with Otto-like life nuisances. Like satellite TV.
“You know how DirecTV has a grid telling you where all the channels are?” Hanks asks moments after breezily sitting down to talk in a Beverly Wilshire hotel suite. “For some reason, they just change it. So what used to be channel 151 is now somewhere in the 500s. And you have to search for it. Or the new grid is more complicated than a legal disclaimer from a drug prescription commercial.”
He’s just getting started, but you get the idea. Hanks can walk the tetchy walk for the comedic drama “Otto” (now streaming).
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The widowed Otto Anderson, hardened by his wife’s death, leads an increasingly isolated existence. Along with the perma-scowl, Hanks developed a knuckles-first “pissed-off angry stomp” for Otto’s waterproof shoe-driven gait that kicks into overdrive when his neighbor’s dog urinates on his Pittsburgh patch of lawn or visitors flout parking-permit regulations.  
Hanks can thank his fellow “Otto” producer (and wife of 35 years) Rita Wilson for endorsing the role. When the couple watched the Oscar-nominated 2015 Swedish film “A Man Called Ove,” based on author Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel, Wilson immediately thought of her spouse for an American remake of the darkly comic drama.
“There’s a narrative about my husband that is he’s the nicest guy in Hollywood. That’s true,” says Wilson. “But that doesn’t mean he can’t access anger, loneliness and unlikability.” 
Those feelings are not created in a vacuum. Wilson has also seen family-legendary, tech-induced crankiness from Hanks.
“My God, where there’s Tom and technology, forget it. When he’s trying to get the TV to work, just walk out of the room,” says Wilson. “Everyone knows it.”
Hanks reveals that failed attempts at disciplining his four children – Colin, 45; Elizabeth, 40; Chet, 32; and Truman, 27 – earned him the unfortunate dad-moniker “Angry Buddy Holly.”
“That’s because my default disciplinary questioning always started with, ‘Right, let me get this straight.’ ” Hanks says. “Whatever comes after that was always a stupid dad complaint.”
Like his Otto persona, Hanks’s inner irascibility was never taken seriously.
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“I once told my kids, ‘Knock it off, or I’m going to clobber you.’ And I was serious. That’s how mad I was,” says Hanks. “Since then I’ve been given cards and posters with inscriptions like, ‘Dear Dad, I am going to clobber you.’ “
But “any scowl is all bark, no bite,” Hanks says of his family dealings.
“Otto” lands in theaters with the Hanks family receiving some scrutiny amid a groundswell of “nepo baby” attention among famous Hollywood families. Both Wilson and Hanks insist that casting son Truman in his first movie role as Otto’s younger self was director Marc Forster’s idea. But Hanks makes no apology. 
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“It’s a family business. If we were bodega owners or ran a plumbing supply company, all the kids would work shifts, especially during inventory time,” says Hanks. “Then there is the dead-ringer aspect. Take photographs of us at 26 and we’re exactly the same human. Except he’s taller, and better-looking than his dad at that age.”
Truman’s channeling of a younger, in-love Otto serves as a contrast to the older, ill-tempered version. But there were limits to how edgy the behavior could be in sensitive times. Hanks and screenwriter Dave Magee carefully crafted one Otto exchange with a neighboring dog owner to make sure the comedic ridiculousness was clear.
“There were discussions,” says Hanks of the efforts to avoid offense. “We started with, ‘I’m going to punt that dog over the roof.’ Then ‘I’m gonna drop-kick that dog over the roof’ and it ended up with, ‘I swear to God, I will drop-kick that dog of yours over the roof.’ “
In real- life, disdain for dog discharge was not an Otto-ism that Hanks can relate to.
“By and large, people are conscientious about using the doggy bag things,” says Hanks, optimistically. “But look, I believe all of us are just two degrees away of going full Otto all of the time.” 
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