Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks paid tribute Friday night to the late director Jonathan Demme, the man who brought them together on his film “Philadelphia,” which won each of them Oscars.
“God bless Jonathan Demme, we just lost him,” Hanks told the crowd attending an event that was part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Storyteller series. Demme, the Oscar-winning director of “Silence of the Lambs,” died of cancer on Wednesday. Springsteen, who won an Oscar for best original song for “Streets of Philadelphia,” called Demme “inspirational.”
Hanks, who won the best actor Academy Award for the 1993 film, played the role of fan during the hour-long session and questioned Springsteen about his life and early career. The actor also frequently engaged the crowd to finish the words to Springsteen hits such as “Rosalita” and “Growin’ Up.”
Springsteen entered to the loud deep chant of “Bruuuuuce,” so common at the music star’s concerts. “Man, I can’t believe they’re booing you Bruce,” Hanks joked.
Much of the conversation was based on stories Springsteen told in his recent memoir, “Born to Run.” He discussed the tough times at the start of his career when he was broke and playing gigs wherever he could. He and his bandmates never paid taxes and avoided bills for years so when they hit it big, they spent years paying off debts and attorney fees.
“In 1980, I think I had about $20,000 to my name — which sounded like a lot of money when I was 20, but when you’re 30 and you’ve been doing this for a while…,” Springsteen said, laughing. “But most people’s early careers are a mess. When you get in the music business, the cards are stacked in favor of the business and they’re stacked against the musicians.”
The rocker known as “The Boss” became reflective when talking about making life off stage mean as much as his creative life. “All artists at some point believe they can live within their art, and what you learn — either quickly or painfully and slowly — is that at the end of the day, it’s just your job, it’s just your work, and life awaits you outside of those things. Let the world happen to you.”
Hanks ended the night by thanking Springsteen, on behalf of all fans. “You make us happy that we were all born in the U.S.A. and will make us always want to keep our eyes out for the girls in their summer clothes. What you have done — more special for all of us — is that you have made us part of something greater than ourselves,” Hanks said.
Among those in attendance Friday were Malia Obama, news anchor Gayle King, and Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson and Springsteen’s Patti Scialfa.