The Secret to Tom Hanks' Movie Success

PHOTO: Tom Hanks sat down with ABC News Bob Woodruff to share his thoughts on his movies and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.PlayABC News
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Tom Hanks has a vivacious personality, an infectious laugh and the ability to make fans around the world feel like he's their oldest friend. But what is the one thing that makes "Forest Gump" such a star in the entertainment industry?

"What it requires, no matter where you are in the film business, the motion picture, television industry requires this quality that I believe is known as equipoise," Hanks told ABC News' Bob Woodruff for the Standing Up For Heroes series. "Equipoise means that you have to have this perfect balance between relaxation and concentration. You've got to be able to move in whatever direction is required at the moment. When that phone call comes in and says, 'We have a disaster on our hands,' you have to say very calmly and quietly, 'Let me see what I can do, I'll take care of this, don't worry.' Then you put it down and then you go off and take care of whatever it is."

As part of ABC News' Standing Up For Heroes series, Hanks will be mentoring Gabriel Posey, a former staff sergeant in the Army Reserves military police who was deployed to Guantanamo Bay and to Afghanistan.

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Posey, 32, aspires to become a force in the entertainment industry and his experience in the military may help him reach his dreams in the film and television industry, Hanks said.

"It's probably not unlike a couple of people in the military that have to do both things," Hanks said. "They have to take orders and then they have to give orders. You have to be able to quickly and with lightening speed go through a file in your head that says who's the best person to take care of this. You have to do a match up in your head, skill sets with the tasks at hand and you've got to say, 'I'm going to give this to this young man because if I don't' I'm going to get singed by the guy that I just got the phone call from.' That is surprisingly enough of a great amount in my business."

Hanks plans to utilize Posey's military experience and his interests to help him succeed in the entertainment industry. One thing Posey has that will help him, Hanks said, is his ability to solve problems.

"What's so great about so many people in the military is, man, they are really good at solving problems," Hanks said. "When you can find somebody who solves problems in the motion picture industry, those people are worth their weight in precious metals. Solving problems as opposed to causing them is the difference between people who can and cannot make it."

But the entertainment industry isn't an easy one and can be ruthless at times, Hanks said.

"Show business is a harsh mistress, let me put it that way," the actor said. "You're going to be judged, not by the people you have given orders to but by the people who have given you orders. If you are not proactive, essentially if you don't deliver the goods, if you don't get it done, then that is going to be a hash mark against you."

Hanks' number one piece of advice for Posey is to not take anything personally and to persevere no matter how many times you've been told, "No."

"It's going to take a while. The thing that I think can drive a lot of people out of every aspect of the motion picture industry is feelings of failure and self loathing when you don't get the job," Hanks said. "That's a hard thing to get past. Ninety-nine percent of the time in this business, people say, 'No thank you.' That means if you've got a month and you've been out 120 times, that means 117 times people have said, 'No thanks, you ain't got what we want.' That is a hard thing, in order to say regardless of that failure, regardless of not getting that job, I'm going to go off and try and get one tomorrow. You have got to say I know who I am, I know what my skills are, and I'm in this for the long haul."