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Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
Actor Colin Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, attended the Salt Lake screening of his film, "The Great Buck Howard."

Being the son of one of the biggest actors in the world, Tom Hanks, obviously has its perks. But according to Colin Hanks, it's actually another hurdle for him to overcome on the path to success.

"Look, I'm not going to lie and say it's terrible to be Tom Hanks' son. He's obviously taught me a lot about acting and the whole industry," the 29-year-old actor said.

But, he added, "I knew that if I was going to make a career of this show-business stuff, I would have to do it myself."

That means "using my smarts and good common sense," Hanks said by telephone. "I know that's not something you hear a lot in this industry. But it is possible to get ahead with a lot of hard work and persistence and not just by trading on who you know or who you're related to."

Since breaking into the industry with supporting roles in the teen comedies "Whatever It Takes" and "Get Over It," the younger Hanks has kept busy. And he has had an especially busy January.

Last weekend, he was at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival for the debut of "The Great Buck Howard." This week, he's been in Hollywood for the debut of "Untraceable."

He appears in both films, saying they "couldn't be more different." In "The Great Buck Howard," he plays the personal assistant to a washed-up magician, played by John Malkovich. "Untraceable" is a thriller about FBI agents (Hanks and Diane Lane) on the trail of an Internet-based serial killer.

" ... They're both great in their own unique fashion. I'm lucky to have two roles like these to promote at the same time."

In fact, Hanks said, "The Great Buck Howard" was "a labor of love," and that it took a nearly five-year commitment from him. "When I read the script, I knew it was something that I had to do."

Of course, finding filmmaker Sean McGinly's script was the easy part, he said. "You'd think it would be just that easy for me to get a film made, but you'd be wrong."

Hanks said he did try to resist the urge to ask his father for a favor. The elder Hanks is the co-owner of a production company, Playtone.

But "after the project got stalled, I called over there to see if they knew what we could do," Hanks said. "Fortunately, they wound up loving the script and gave us the money to get started."

"The Great Buck Howard" also gave Hanks his first opportunity to act opposite his father — they play father and son in the comedy.

"Obviously, we had to really stretch our acting muscles," he said with a laugh.

And like his father, Hanks is interested in directing. One of his next projects is a documentary about the music industry. He teased that the film might be about "drastic changes in musical formats," implying that it may examine Internet piracy issues.

"I'm not egotistical enough to think that I can be a great director at this point in my career," he said. "But this is a subject that interests me, so I'm thinking maybe I know just enough about storytelling to do it justice."

In fact, Hanks said he is a huge fan of documentary filmmaking. One of his big regrets from his too-brief, three-day Sundance stay is that he wasn't able to see any documentaries.

"Sundance is such a crazy beast. You have no time for what you really want to do and instead, you spend all your time being seen and trying to get people to see your movie," he said. "Oh well, there's always next year."

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com