Tom Hanks: I’ll clean toilets for a chance to travel into space

Tom Hanks at the Lightroom - The Moon
‘The most immersive medium I’ve ever witnessed’: Tom Hanks poses before his exhibition The Moonwalkers - Justin Sutcliffe

Tom Hanks may have won the hearts of millions voicing the character of Woody in Pixar’s Toy Story but it is the cowboy’s trusty sidekick, Buzz Lightyear that the Hollywood star would rather emulate.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Hanks revealed his fascination with space, insisting he would be the cleaner on board a rocket if it allowed him to travel to infinity and beyond.

“I would like to be the guy in charge of serving food and making jokes to and from the moon,” Hanks said.

“If there was room, I would be the guy that cleans up, makes jokes, tells stories and keeps everybody entertained. I’m your man. I would probably sign up right now!

“That might be a good idea, I’ll do all the work. I’ll clean the toilet. I’ll serve the food. I’ll fold clothes. I’ll stow the gear. That way the others could be free to do other stuff.”

‘So much visceral information’

Mr Hanks, who played astronaut Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, delivering the infamous line – “Houston, we have a problem” – is co-writing and narrating a project dedicated to lunar exploration.

The Moonwalkers opens Dec 6 at Lightroom in London and tells the story of Nasa’s moon missions, past and present. Both Apollo and Artemis will be showcased in “truly the most immersive medium I’ve ever witnessed”, Hanks said.

“Because of the massive volume of Lightroom, we can load it up with so much visceral information.”

Tom Hanks at the Lightroom
Hanks has starred in a number of space-themed films over the years - Justin Sutcliffe

Hanks said he was inspired by the current David Hockney exhibition at Lightroom, which made him think “you could walk on to the moon in here if you wanted to”.

He told The Telegraph that the show was partly inspired by “time machine” images being taken by the James Webb Space Telescope and will draw on his meetings with various astronauts.

Artemis II, which is due to launch next November, will repeat the journey of Lovell and Apollo 8. Hanks is set to meet the four-strong crew in the coming weeks, and emphasises how important it is that this will be only the tenth time that human beings have managed this feat.

Through various space projects, Hanks has met a host of Nasa pioneers, but received “a very polite no” from Neil Armstrong when he wrote a letter asking for his insight.

The first man on the moon told Mr Hanks he thought there was very little to say that had not already been said, but wished him all the best.

“[Armstrong] essentially said ‘I am glad you’re doing it and good luck with your efforts’, and he signed the letter ‘All good things, Neil Armstrong’,” Mr Hanks said.

Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks
Hanks (right) played Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 - Universal Studios

Hanks praised the Artemis mission for having an even split of males and females, saying it was “about time” as no woman has ever gone to the moon.

“Four people on Artemis are going to see the Earth rise over the moon and some of them are going to be a gender other than male. I think that says everything about the progress of humankind right there.

“Apollo was men, men, men, men, men. We need to send the absolute best people on Artemis and guess what? Some of them are going to be women.”

Tickets for the exhibit go on sale on Wednesday.