Tom Hanks Played 7 People in "The Polar Express," Including Santa Claus

Sure, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Elf," and "A Christmas Story" all reign supreme when it comes to classic holiday movies, but if you love Tom Hanks as much as we do, then you don't want to sleep on "The Polar Express." (Really, you might miss your stop.) In addition to voicing the incredibly punctual conductor in the film, the actor and America's Dad plays six other characters who contribute to the 2004 film's whimsy.

"Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart."

As the narrator, he shepherds us into a snow-covered world where an enchanted train can carry children directly to the North Pole, a universe straight out of the 1985 book of the same name that inspired the film. As the ghost of the man who rides the Polar Express, he tests the Hero Boy's (Daryl Sabara and Josh Hutcherson) faith in Santa Claus. "Seeing is believing. Am I right?" he tells the Hero Boy as they make their journey to see Santa in person once and for all. With the help of his friends — the Know It-All (Eddie Deezen) and the Hero Girl (Nona Gaye) — the Hero Boy hangs onto hope that Santa is real.

And of course, Hanks also voices Santa, keeping the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts by reminding the Hero Boy to always believe. "This bell is a wonder symbol of the spirit of Christmas, as am I," Santa tells the Hero Boy when they finally meet. As a token to remember him by, Santa gifts the boy a magical silver bell that can only be heard by those who believe in the spirit of Christmas. "Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart," he adds.

From wild shrieks and stern warnings to the bellowing "ho ho ho" he lets out as Santa Claus, Hanks's heartfelt performances make "The Polar Express" a modern-day holiday classic. Ahead, take a closer look at all his characters, and relive some of their best moments throughout the film.

The Conductor

As the Conductor, Hanks brought us the holiday classic "Hot Chocolate," which is definitely worth singing whenever cocoa is around. Infatuated with getting to the North Pole on time, the Conductor acts as a guide on the Hero Boy's unexpected journey, introducing twists and saving him at every wrong turn until he's safely back home.

The Hero Boy

"Spy Kids" actor Sabara does voice the Hero Boy, but those raised eyebrows and inquisitive looks are all courtesy of Hanks, whose face was used to motion-capture the character's movements during animation, according to The Byrde Theatre. Considering that the Conductor also bears a striking resemblance to Hanks, it's almost like he's the Hero Boy all grown up.

Santa Claus

Hanks as Santa Claus is a sort of dream come true, if you ask us. The polar (pun-intended) opposite of Jim Carrey in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," his Santa is boisterous, festive, and jolly. His booming voice and surprising height solidify the fact that he is the Santa and give us secondhand amazement as the Hero Boy stares up at him in childlike wonder.

The Narrator

Hanks has one of those wonderfully soothing voices that makes everything seem a little more peaceful. As the narrator, who is the Hero Boy all grown up, he perfectly captures the tone of a father telling his kids a story around the fireplace on Christmas Eve.

The Hero Boy's Dad

Oh, and Hanks plays the Hero Boy's unnamed and mostly unseen dad. While he has very few lines, the Hero Boy's dad inadvertently makes it clear to his son that the silver bell Santa Claus gifted him doesn't work for adults. It's at this moment that the main character understands the power of believing and sets out to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible.

The Ghost on the Train

The man who lives on top of the train is a complex character who tests the Hero Boy's faith in Santa Claus while also saving him and the other riders — including the Conductor — from mayhem whenever possible. Curiously, he flits in and out of the film, only appearing fully for the Hero Boy to see, implying that he's a ghost eternally tied to the Polar Express.

The Ebenezer Scrooge Puppet

This one's easy to miss, but Hanks also voices the Ebenezer Scrooge puppet, which the man on top of the train uses to scare Hero Boy into doubting that the Polar Express is real. "You are just like me, my friend: a scrooge!" the puppet says, frightening the Hero Boy. "North Pole, Santa Claus, this train — it's all a bunch o' humbug!" The Hero Boy does eventually notice that it's just the man on the train playing a trick on him, but we don't blame him for scurrying away anyway after hearing Hanks's booming voice reverberate through the moving train car.

The Spirit of Christmas

OK, this one wasn't actually one of his roles in the film, but Hanks did embody the spirit of Christmas in every single one of these roles. So please excuse us while we pop some marshmallows in our hot chocolate and settle in to relive the magic this holiday season.