Why Tom Hanks Felt A Man Called Otto Needed An American Adaptation

Ultimately, the unique kind of isolation and loneliness that Tom Hanks saw within the character of Otto was one that he recognized as deeply American. In the effort of changing the name of the character, and creating a new version of the story that took place in a neighborhood community threatened to be torn apart by real estate companies, they found new, specific emotional truths from the source material. “In the United States, it is very easy to become so insular and so alone, and so singular that you might not be able to agree with enough people in order to belong to a community,” Hanks told Collider, “particularly when somebody moves across the street that is very different from you. We thought that was a germ of an idea that could really be explored in the guise of this incredibly cranky guy.”

Hanks’s version of “A Man Called Otto” takes the source material, which was more centered on one individual’s grief and how that inhibits his ability to find belonging, and turns it into a commentary on the folly of American individualism:

“Now, the novel by Fredrik Backman, as well as the original movie, are both masterpieces. So we figured out, ‘Well, why bother trying to try to come up with a different version of it?’ And the answer was because I think it is universal, the human condition is, and whatnot. And what Otto Anderson goes through is that fascinating mix between what he wants to avoid and what he absolutely has to have. He does not want a bunch of Mexicans moving across the street from him, but when they do, it’s the best thing that could ever happen to him because it draws him into a much greater life than he would’ve had.”

Leave a Comment