Tom Hanks Plays 'Not My Job' On 'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!' Hanks recently recovered from the coronavirus, so we called to check in on him. While he was on the line, we asked the man who played Mr. Rogers to answer three questions about very bad neighbors.
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We Call To Check In On Tom Hanks (And Ask Him To Play Not My Job)

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We Call To Check In On Tom Hanks (And Ask Him To Play Not My Job)

We Call To Check In On Tom Hanks (And Ask Him To Play Not My Job)

We Call To Check In On Tom Hanks (And Ask Him To Play Not My Job)

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/837682956/837914160" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Tom Hanks arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Tom Hanks has had an amazing career — blockbuster movies, best-selling books, two Oscars, and of course, his triumph: hosting this show, once. He just got over a very bad cold, so we decided to call and check in on him.

While we had him on the line, we invited Hanks to play Not My Job. Since he starred as Mr. Rogers, the nicest neighbor ever, we wrote a game for him called "It's a terrible day in the neighborhood" — three questions about pretty awful neighbors.

Click the audio link above to find out how he does.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we ask people who've done remarkable things to do just one more. Tom Hanks has had an amazing career with his many blockbuster films, bestselling books, two Oscars and, of course, I think the pinnacle of his career, hosting this show once. Well, we heard he just got over a bad cold. We thought it'd be time to invite him back. Tom Hanks, welcome back to WAIT WAIT.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

TOM HANKS: It's good to be back in the source of the finest reviews of my career.

SAGAL: Actually, this is the first time you've been on the show since you did that about three years ago. And did, in fact, people reach out to you? Because they reached out to me, and they basically said, Peter, when are you leaving, again?

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: We all have those things in our checkered careers, don't we? Go on Netflix and look for "Bonfire Of The Vanities," and you'll know how I...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I have to ask on behalf of a - I think a concerned globe. How are you feeling, Tom Hanks?

HANKS: We are just fine, dandy. We had all of the flu-like symptoms. My wife, Rita, was a little worse off than me. She had a very high temperature. And we were isolated so that we would not give it to anyone else.

SAGAL: Right. Now that you've had it, aren't you supposedly, like, immune? You're superheroes. You can walk amongst us and be immune. Or is that just nonsense?

HANKS: Well, a lot of the question is what now, you know? What do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies.

PETER GROSZ: Wait. So can we harvest your body? Can we harvest your blood?

HANKS: Yes.

ADAM FELBER: Have you been approached?

HANKS: We have not only been approached; we have said, do you want our blood? Can we give plasma? And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine. (ph)

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Oh, please.

SAGAL: There could be no better ending to this international catastrophe than if the cure turns out to be the blood of Tom Hanks.

FELBER: That would be the best.

SAGAL: Would that not be? Because we've always thought it would do us some good somehow.

HANKS: I'm not trying to hog it with a copyright or - you know, I'm not going to the patent office.

GROSZ: You thought he was Jimmy Stewart, but he's also Jonas Salk.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Tom, let me ask you the obvious Hollywood question. If there is a sequel, would you consider being in COVID-20?

HANKS: Yes, I would. I would answer all the questions left unanswered by COVID-19. And by the way, how many franchises do you have that go on that long? "James Bond" thing, "Fast And The Furious" and the COVID series.

GROSZ: Can I say, for all of America, can there just be one of these, please?

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: We love you, Tom. I do not want to see the second one of these.

SAGAL: You hosted "Saturday Night Live." You sort of ushered that show back into production in the middle of all this. And a question arose that I have seen coursing through social media, and I can pose it to you now. Tom Hanks, was that your real kitchen?

HANKS: No, that was my abandoned office that is 10 minutes away from my home.

NEGIN FARSAD: Can I ask you - what do you have against your own kitchen that you went into that other kitchen?

HANKS: What you're seeing down there truly is my taste in decoration, not my wife's taste. Yes, it is me, baby. That is my big, masculine man cave, and you should've been able to tell by the fabulous one-button-only cappuccino espresso maker that was back over my left-hand shoulder.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Dark mahogany cabinets - right? - sort of a rich...

HANKS: That is my crib, and I am proud of it.

SAGAL: What was funny was so many people were like, that is no way that is, like, an A-list movie star's kitchen. So could you for the - just for the benefit of those people, lie to America about what your real kitchen is like?

HANKS: My real kitchen?

SAGAL: I assume it looks like the dining hall at Hogwarts.

HANKS: No, no.

SAGAL: It has an artsy...

GROSZ: It's the "Ratatouille" kitchen with all those, like, stoves, black and gold.

HANKS: Do you know - have you seen "Downton Abbey"?

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: All those people that work downstairs making bread and stuff like that?

GROSZ: You have Mrs. Patmore in your...

HANKS: I'm not sure what their names are. I don't know how long they've been working for us, but they are really busy down there. And if I had done "SNL" over their shoulders, it wouldn't have had the same impact.

SAGAL: What is your life like during lockdown? Are you doing the same as the rest of us, just in your house, reading books, spending your time, taking a Zoom meeting?

HANKS: I find that something different has happened about every 20 minutes. I've done the Marie Kondo-izing of much of my life, I must say. I found this microphone. That's one thing. I didn't even realize I had this microphone. So I'm glad it was...

SAGAL: Lucky us.

HANKS: It was in the original box, so I pulled it out. But I got to say - if I win one hand of Solitaire, I immediately try to see if I can get two in a row, so I'm busy. I am very, very busy enough.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah. Well, Tom Hanks, it is such a pleasure to talk to you every single time we get to do it. But there are rules. So this time, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: It's A Terrible Day In The Neighborhood.

SAGAL: Your most recent film to come out was "A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood." You played Mister Rogers, the nicest neighbor ever, so we thought we'd ask you about some of the worst neighbors ever. Answer 2 out of 3 correctly, and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they may choose on their voice mail.

HANKS: Well, I was actually hoping the prize would be they get to substitute host WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME once again.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Just because you won that once doesn't mean we let everybody do it. Bill, who is Tom Hanks playing for today?

KURTIS: Diana Combs-Selman of Fort Worth, Texas.

SAGAL: All right. You know the rules, Tom.

HANKS: Let's do this, Diana.

SAGAL: You've been on both sides. Here we go. You might be excited if your neighbor won the lottery but not the neighbors of a British man, who won 10 million pounds in 2003 and then did what with the money? Was it, A, he bought the house next door and created Britain's first rat sanctuary and petting zoo; B, he added an additional 15 stories onto his house; or, C, turned his yard into a demolition derby racetrack?

HANKS: I'm going to go with the 15 stories. Did he block everybody's view with his money?

SAGAL: No, he didn't. He actually turned it into a demolition derby racetrack.

HANKS: You know, there's a lot of things a person could do with 10 million pounds. That's about the most sensible thing you could possibly do.

SAGAL: I think so.

HANKS: Mash up some cars.

SAGAL: Make a note, Tom, for when the quarantine is over. Anyway, when neighbors complained, he launched fireworks and flares over their houses. That's somebody who knew how to live. All right. You still have two more chances.

HANKS: All right. I'll take a little longer on this because I know you need to pad this show out. So...

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: I've been listening in, and I think there's a lot of cuttable material.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. A concerned mother in Northern California called animal control on her neighbor in 2015 after she noticed what - A, that the neighbor's parrot was teaching her kids how to swear; B, that the neighbor's cat really seemed not to enjoy being dressed up every day with a hat for a kitty tea party; or, C, that her neighbor's dog really seemed to look and act like a person in a dog suit.

HANKS: These are far too possible, each one of them. Parrot, cat or dog.

SAGAL: Yes, those are the three pets.

HANKS: You've heard the story of the parrot who did swear far too much and insulted its owner until, in anger, the owner grabbed the parrot and shoved it into his freezer above his refrigerator. And then when - after leaving in there for a few minutes, he opened the door and the parrot was very contrite and said, I want to apologize. My language was - I should not have used it. It was rude of me, and I hope you can forgive me. And then the parrot said, and by the way, just what did the chicken do?

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: In honor of that joke, I'm going to vote for the foul-mouthed parrot.

SAGAL: You're exactly right, Tom.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That's the one. The neighbor claimed that the parrot was shouting obscenities in Spanish. The parrot's owner said the parrot doesn't even know Spanish. OK. All right. This is for the win now. Here is your last question. Once upon a time, a man named Bob kept complaining to his neighbor about the condition of his ugly, unpainted wooden fence. What did the neighbor do? Was it A, he tore down the fence, so his neighbor Bob could enjoy him and his 70-year-old wife practice nudism; B, he got some paint and he just painted the words, look, Bob, I've painted my fence on the ugly, old wood; or, C, he tore down the fence and put up five concrete highway barriers?

HANKS: Who would complain about 70-year-old nudists? I don't - I think - oh, wait, I see some hands here on the Zoom conference.

FARSAD: Definitely.

FELBER: Yes.

HANKS: I'll go with the, hey, Bob, I painted my fence.

SAGAL: That's exactly right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

HANKS: That sounds like it's meant for the Internet.

SAGAL: That's what he did. It's very - in huge, five-foot-high letters across the 40-foot-long fence. Hey, Bob, I painted my fence.

HANKS: And that's a bad neighbor? I think that's kind of...

SAGAL: I think it's pretty clever.

FARSAD: It's fun.

SAGAL: He's been immortalized. Bill, how did Tom Hanks do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Tom pulled out a win. And we're going to give him a free cup of his favorite drink at WAIT WAIT - a cup of Postum.

SAGAL: Tom Hanks is an award-winning actor and substitute public radio host. Tom Hanks, we are so thrilled that you deigned to stop by and talk to us.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

HANKS: Oh, thanks for having me back, guys. Thank you very much. Always a great pleasure. Take care, everybody.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

FELBER: Bye, Tom.

KURTIS: Bye-bye.

HANKS: I'm leaving the Zoom meeting now.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOTTA MOVE OUT OF MY NEIGHBORHOOD")

LUTHER JOHNSON: (Singing) I gotta move.

SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill tells you how to be the star of your next Zoom meeting. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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