Colin Hanks' new documentary opens the same day as his father Tom's latest film, Bridge of Spies

By Cynthia Wang
Updated October 15, 2015 05:00 PM
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Credit: Jared Milgrim/The Photo Access/The World Access/Corbis

What a week it’s been for Colin Hanks.

On Monday, the 37-year-old actor continued his adventures as nervous new dad Greg Short on the CBS comedy Life in Pieces. On Tuesday, he blasted into space as astronaut Gordon “Gordo” Cooper on Comedy Central’s Drunk History. And on Friday, he will make his debut as a full-length feature director when his documentary, All Things Must Pass, premieres in the U.S.

“The thing that made Tower really special and unique was that it was open 365 days a year, open ’til midnight, had every single record you could possibly want, and you could spend as much time in that store and still not buy anything and they wouldn’t get pissed off,” Hanks tells PEOPLE. “There’s just something really welcoming about that sort of social club, that hangout, that badass fort.”

Hanks and his dad, Tom Hanks, 59, whose latest historic thriller is Bridge of Spies, will have their films open in theaters on the same day.

“I’m in competition with my son!” Tom joked to PEOPLE on Oct. 4. “We really might try to do a tweet-off. I hope that he sees mine and I see his on the same night.”

For Colin, fond memories of growing up in Sacramento, where Tower Records got its start in 1960, served as a catalyst for finding out what happened to the 200-store-strong chain that went bankrupt in 2006.

“I remember buying the concert tickets to my very first concert there, which was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the Full Moon Fever tour, March 5, 1990,” Hanks says. “So clearly, that one wasn’t a big deal for me at all! But I remember buying Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which is arguably one of the most important records in my life because it put me on my musical path. I also remember buying Beastie Boys cassettes, Public Enemy cassettes.”

Hanks also admits to some creative repurposing of the long boxes CDs used to be cased in. “I would take those home and I would very carefully take off all the shrink-wrappage,” he says. “Then I would use an X-Acto knife and cut on all the edges so I would have a clean sort of poster that I would put up on the wall of my bedroom.”

It took seven years for Hanks to complete All Things Must Pass, which included securing funding for the project and getting all the interviews he needed, including a lot of time with Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, 90.

“Russ is a very curious person, a very open-minded person and there was no idea that was too crazy for him,” Hanks says.

Hanks interviewed former Tower staffers, music executives and artists such as Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, and found rare footage of John, with a long checklist in-hand, shopping at the Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in L.A.

“It was nice to be able to have that conversation,” Hanks says. “I knew he was passionate about Tower and I knew my responsibility as the guy who was trying to make the definitive Tower Records documentary was, ‘I need to have Elton John!’ Elton John was a part of their history.”

The title of the film references the George Harrison song Tower employees put on the Sacramento store marquee when the chain went out of business, and Hanks says his team was lucky to find video of people browsing the racks at the Sunset store on the actual day Harrison’s All Things Must Pass was released.

“So that was George smiling down on us in a very funny way,” Hanks says.

Hanks says he will continue to direct and act but may try his hand at helming scripted fare next. “I’ve been producing and directing short documentaries for the past couple of years and I don’t envision that ending anytime soon,” he says, “but I would like to be getting into directing more of a narrative feature. That would be great.”

All Things Must Pass opens nationwide on Friday.