Tom Hanks is writing what he knows.
The two-time Oscar winner wrote his first novel, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, out May 9, 2023, about the movie business and the making of a "colossal, star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film and the humble comic book that inspired it," per an official synopsis.
Hanks, 66, tells PEOPLE that the plot draws from his personal Hollywood experiences.
"Every character in the book does something I've experienced while making a movie, as well as discovered a philosophy or learned an important lesson. Even the foolish moments are some kind of stunt I've pulled or mistake I've survived," he says.
The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece spans several decades and showcases American culture has changed since World War II. One portion is set in 1947, about a soldier returning home from war who leaves a lasting impression on his talented 5-year-old nephew. That boy grows up to draw comic books in 1970, making his uncle into one of his characters.
Then, in present day, a director decides to adapt that comic book into a big-budget superhero movie. The book's characters include an "extremely difficult" male actor and a "wonderful" leading lady actress, plus an "eccentric" director, producer, production assistant and more quirky crew members.
Tom Hanks novel
Courtesy of Knopf Publishing Group
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Interspersed throughout the novel are comic books written by Hanks and illustrated by Robert Sikoryak.
"The source for a movie can go back as many years as are in history. A story turns on a single moment in the life of someone, then all the anecdotes of the current day magnify that moment," explains Hanks. "Going back to 1947 makes sense, as would have starting in, say, 1559. Human yearning has proven to be timeless."
"No one knows how a movie is made — though everyone thinks they do," he adds. "I've made a ton of movies (and four of them are pretty good, I think) and I'm still amazed at how films come together. From a flicker of an idea to the flickering image onscreen, the whole process is a miracle."
Tom Hanks, Author photo
Hanks, who also wrote the bestselling 2017 collection of short stories Uncommon Type, says, "Movie-making is very hard work over a very long period of time that consists of so many moments of joy slapped up against an equal number of feelings of self-loathing. It is the greatest job in the world and the most confounding of labors that I know of. I hope the book captures as much of 'the accidental judgements and casual slaughter' that go into a motion pictures dictum to hold 'a mirror up to nature' that I have witnessed (and caused) since I joined the Screen Actors Guild."