28 APRIL 2009

When Tom Hanks learned a prestigious New York cine association planned to honour him at its annual tribute the actor/producer commented he was glad the ceremony wasn't being televised "so we can let our hair down".

And that's exactly what he and his close friends did in riotous style at the Film Society of Lincoln Center soiree. And leading the revellers were Julia Roberts, Bruce Springsteen and Charlize Theron.

Asked if Tom was as nice as people say the South African beauty joked: "No, but his talent makes up for it!".

Also there to share anecdotes and memories of their Oscar-winning colleague were Brothers And Sisters actress Sally Field, Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons, who roared up on motorbike.

The night out marked a rare public appearance for Ocean's Eleven actress Julia, who these days is more often found at home caring for her young family than at glitzy Hollywood events.

With her auburn curls flowing loose over her shoulders and wearing a chic white brocade day dress, the actress added glamour and laughs in equal measure as she shared a joke with the evening's honoree.

In a more serious moment the Pretty Woman star heaped praise on her friend, with whom she co-starred in Charlie Wilson's War, describing him as the "great quintessential actor".

"He does everything from the campy comedies like Bosom Buddies to Cast Away. Everyone asks what Tom is like. He's what you want him to be," she said.

Photo: Rex
The Ocean's Eleven actress plays along with one of Tom Hanks' famous jokes. In excellent spirits at a New York gala in his honour, the Cast Away star appeared to be making a big show of shying away from his friend
Photo: Rex
Tom and his actress wife Rita (left) were joined on the night by Bruce Springsteen, who attended with his other half Patti Scialfa
Photo: Rex
Fellow director/actor Ron Howard was also among those helping honour Tom