Tom Hanks Recalls Changing His Pants 'in Front of the Mona Lisa' While Making 'Da Vinci Code'

"Who gets to have that experience?" Tom Hanks recalled of the moment that happened while filming in the Louvre museum in Paris

THE DA VINCI CODE, Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, 2006
Photo: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Hanks once turned the Mona Lisa exhibit into his personal changing room.

Speaking with The New York Times, the Elvis actor, 65, recalled making the 2006 Ron Howard mystery-thriller The Da Vinci Code, filming on location in Paris. While he admitted the big-screen Dan Brown adaptation was "hooey," he praised the memorable experiences and access he got to have while making the project.

"Let me tell you something else about The Da Vinci Code. It was my 40th-something birthday. We were shooting in the Louvre at night. I changed my pants in front of the Mona Lisa!" said Hanks of the Leonardo da Vinci painting, which is on display in the Louvre museum. "They brought me a birthday cake in the Grand Salon! Who gets to have that experience? Any cynicism there? Hell no!"

Hanks played Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code, which also starred Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Paul Bettany. Hanks reprised the role in 2009's Angels & Demons and 2016's Inferno.

The topic of the franchise came up in the interview after Hanks said, "I'm not a cynic." Reporter David Marchese then asked, "Making those Robert Langdon sequels wasn't a little cynical?"

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Tom Hanks attends the Australian premiere of ELVIS at Event Cinemas Pacific Fair on June 04, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Tom Hanks. Chris Hyde/Getty

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"Oh, God, that was a commercial enterprise," said Hanks. "Yeah, those Robert Langdon sequels are hooey. The Da Vinci Code was hooey. I mean, Dan Brown, God bless him, says, 'Here is a sculpture in a place in Paris! No, it's way over there. See how a cross is formed on a map? Well, it's sort of a cross.' Those are delightful scavenger hunts that are about as accurate to history as the James Bond movies are to espionage. But they're as cynical as a crossword puzzle."

"All we were doing is promising a diversion. There's nothing wrong with good commerce, provided it is good commerce," he continued. "By the time we made the third one, we proved that it wasn't such good commerce."

Elsewhere in the interview, Hanks was asked to share the first thing that came to mind when he's asked for a memory from his career. He offered an anecdote from the set of 1994's Forrest Gump.

"We were shooting the park-bench scenes of Forrest Gump. It's summertime in Savannah, Georgia. We had shot 27 straight days. It was brutal," he recalled. "We were sitting there, and I got this haircut, we're trying to make sense of this dialogue, and I had to say, 'Bob, man, I don't think anybody's going to care.' And [director Robert Zemeckis] said: 'It's a minefield, Tom. You never know what's good. Are you going to make it through safe? Or are you gonna step on a Bouncing Betty that's going to blow your balls off?' There's never any guarantee."

"I'll be 66 in July, and I've been acting for a paycheck since I was 20. Forty-six years and I now know what was evident when I was 20 years old is what Spencer Tracy said: 'Learn the lines. Hit the marks. Tell the truth.' That's all you can do," added Hanks.

Elvis is in theaters June 24.

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