The actor known for playing boyish good guy role such as the one in the movie "Orange County," has always had a tall lanky frame to go with a nice guy personality. He was able to have memorable roles in shows such as the sci-fi drama "Rosewell," and HBO's hit mini-series "Band of Brothers."
But in the age of the antihero, those same good-natured qualities may have worked against landing more complex parts. To burnish his darker side, Hanks even took a showy turn a few years ago as a serial killer on "Dexter." But he always seemed too decent to break bad.
"That's the stereotype of me," said the 36-year-old actor, who is the son of actor Tom Hanks. "That's the pigeonhole I'm in, and I'm constantly trying to break out of that."
In FX's new hit 10-episode series "Fargo," which showcases its final episode for the season on Tuesday, Hanks plays a moral bound duty and ethics first police officer named Gus Grimly. But it quickly becomes a more complicated portrayal when his character meets up with the evil Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). Hanks' single parent character backs down — a decision that might have saved his life and kept his daughter from becoming an orphan, but also one that costs the lives of many more residents of the quirky community.
"A lot of Gus was frustrating to me," Hanks said during a recent sit-down at his publicist's office in Beverly Hills. "He's got a lot of the nice guy stuff that I've been trying to buck. But the way it was written and directed, it's the best version of this type of guy."
The performance he has given thus far has drawn praise from both critics and fans of the show as his character has progressed through each episode. Some of the most favorable reviews of his career have come from the show over the last nine-episodes. The attention he has started to grab has caught the actor a bit off guard.
"The reception we've gotten has been rather overwhelming," said Hanks. "I'm not necessarily used to being in something that has grabbed attention like this. Usually, it's a little bit after the fact."
"Fargo" creator Noah Hawley had high praise for Hanks: "Colin was born to play this role — it really shows what he is capable of. He's got that impossible-to-quantify likability, but he's never been put through his paces like this."
That could come as good news since the actor had to endure the bitter cold of Calgary, Canada during the shooting of the episodes. After battling through doing scenes in the below freezing temperatures his role could finally pay off for future endeavors afterwards.
"When they're wrapping the camera in an electric blanket, that's not a good sign. But the cold is a character," said Hanks. "It's what people remember from the film, along with the accents and the wood chipper."
Hanks said he doesn't have any immediate projects but is hopeful that "Fargo" will open up new and more diverse roles: "The kinds of things I want to do may become a little more possible now."