Tom Hanks discusses Weinstein and his new Spielberg film

Tom Hanks holds a copy of his book at a promotional event for Uncommon Type: Some Stories, in New York.
Tom Hanks holds a copy of his book at a promotional event for Uncommon Type: Some Stories, in New York.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (WP) - Even Tom Hanks gets star struck. On Saturday, during a VIP tour of the National Archives collection, he approached the glass-enclosed Constitution.

The self-professed history geek covered his eyes with his hands and recited the Constitution's preamble from memory.

It seems the National Archives Foundation picked the right recipient for its highest honour, the Records of Achievement Award, granted to individuals "whose work has cultivated a broader national awareness" of the history and identity of the United States.

Nearly 250 history fans feted Hanks on Saturday night with a black-tie dinner and a one-on-one discussion with documentarian and past Archives honouree Ken Burns.

Hanks' roles in films such as Saving Private Ryan, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Captain Phillips and Sully have brought important periods of US history to audiences.

"You must constantly cherry-pick the accurate, truthful details of behaviour and procedure because, for good or for bad, people are going to look at that and say, 'Oh, that's what really happened back then,' " Hanks said in a red-carpet interview.

He also opened up about his preparation for his role as legendary editor Ben Bradlee in the upcoming Steven Spielberg feature The Papers.

To date, he has devoured every book, piece of film and sound bite he could get his hands on. He also had a private sit-down with Mr Bradlee's widow to learn about "other sort of particulars" that cannot be gleaned from paper and video.

When studying a new character, "you try to distill it down to an essence that you can carry with you every day", Hanks said. "Ben Bradlee knew that he was the coolest guy in the room because he loved his job and he knew he had a power of persuasion. He knew that he was skilled in some ways, but more than that, I think, he loved it more than anyone else did."

When questioned about the recent sexual abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, he called it "a watershed moment" not just for women in the acting world, but for women in all industries too.

"Are we at a place where a new brand of, say, a code of ethics, is going to be put forward, that everybody better wise up and start paying attention to and perhaps obeying? I think absolutely yes," Hanks said.