The 39-year-old actor-turned-filmmaker is back in the director's chair for a new HBO documentary about the 2015 Bataclan terror attack. But Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) not only recounts the horrifying tale, it also follows the band on their journey back to perform in the City of Light in February 2016. For Hanks, the project was incredibly personal.
"I've known these guys in the band for a long time. They're my close friends," he told ET at the film's Thursday night premiere at the Avalon in Hollywood, California.
"When they were going back to Paris to finish their concert and resume their tour, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to show something positive and to show people collectively coming together and moving on with their lives," he continued. "From that initial idea sprung this movie that really sort of transcends the subject matter and is really a story about friendship and people who care about each other and the lengths that people will go to, to help their friends.
"And, selfishly," he added, "it's also an excuse for me to be able to help my friends move on with their lives so they don't have to speak about this publicly again."
The entire band was in attendance for Thursday's event, but Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme admitted that they didn't intend to stay for the screening.
"It was hard to watch," Hughes said, revealing that he had seen just "bits and pieces" of the project earlier. "It's difficult."
Homme said that he would not be viewing any of the final project.
"Being in the spot that I was in was plenty for me," he said. "I trust Colin and I love Colin, and I hope that you like it. ... [The terrorists] may have started the sentence, but the punctuation needs to be something more and something beautiful, and that's what's important."
Hanks and his producing partner, Sean Stuart, approached their friends about this project about a month after the attack. Initially, they only asked whether the band had already secured a film crew to capture their return to Paris. As talks turned to a more in-depth feature, Hughes and Homme balked.
"The first thing Joshua did was try to talk Colin out of it," Hughes said.
"Because I like him," Homme interjected. "I told him, you don't have to be part of this. Stay away. And he chose not to, which I think is an extremely kind and noble and giving thing to do for your friends."
"When friends are suffering or having a difficult time, they want to protect their friends," Hanks responded. "This was a scenario in which I understood that instinct, but as a friend, I wasn't about to let them go through this thing alone."
The band said that "church, family and friends" have helped them through the last year (along with Hughes' lighthearted motto, "Stay horny," he joked). And since the attack, Hughes and Homme say that their lives have actually changed for the better.
"I've seen only the most beautiful that people can be. My faith in humanity has been restored and I've had an opportunity to reflect on my friendships, especially with my best friend here, Joshua," Hughes said. "Blessings can be terrible. At the same time, even wonderful things can have an awfulness to them, if you know what I mean. But we're leaving that behind."
Asked whether they were afraid to return to the stage following the attack, Hughes didn't miss a beat.
"I was afraid not to do it," he said. "I just don't have it in me to ever let the bad guys win. It's un-American, fundamentally. ... You can't kill rock and roll, and love will always win."