Few actors can put a smile on audiences’ faces like Tom Hanks. The two-time Oscar winner has delighted fans for decades. In films such as Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Saving Private Ryan, Hanks is known for playing characters viewers know to trust. As it turns out, the reason for this lies in the actor’s very genes, as Hanks has played two of his distant relatives.
Is Tom Hanks related to Mr. Rogers?
When Hanks signed on for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, fans rejoiced at the casting. After all, Fred Rogers inspired generations as the genial host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Rogers carried the implicit trust of his viewers, much like so many of Hanks’ big-screen roles. Perhaps that’s why audiences were so quick to see Hanks as an ideal choice to play Rogers.
But that’s more to it than just that. Though Hanks wasn’t aware of it at the time, he and Rogers are actually distant relatives. Thanks to Ancestry.com, CNN reported the connection in 2019, proclaiming the two stars are “sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather.” Access Hollywood broke the news to an incredulous Hanks and wife Rita Wilson on the red carpet.
‘Saving Mr. Banks’ features Tom Hanks as Walt Disney
But Rogers isn’t the only distant relative Hanks played in a movie. In 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, the actor plays Walt Disney during the making of Mary Poppins. And reportedly, Hanks and Disney are also distant cousins. Of course, Disney was a much more controversial figure in hindsight than Rogers. Still, the Disney-Hanks connection makes a certain amount of sense.
Coincidentally, one of Hanks’ best-known roles is as Woody in Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. Given the nature of Hanks’ alleged familial ties to Disney, it’s unlikely his casting as Woody resulted from a reported relation to Disney. Nevertheless, it’s fun for audiences to ponder how Hanks and Disney compare to and contrast with each other.
The actor’s ancestry even traces back to Abraham Lincoln
Finally, Hanks’ family tree can even be traced back to Abraham Lincoln. According to Entertainment Tonight, the actor is a “third cousin, four generations removed” from Lincoln. Though Hanks hasn’t played Lincoln on the big screen, his friend and frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg did direct Daniel Day-Lewis to his third Oscar win for 2012’s Lincoln.
In recent years, some fans have expressed their hopes Hanks will eventually pursue a political career. Right now, there’s no indication the actor has any plans to do so. But if he does, Hanks can lean into the fact that one of history’s most influential and respected U.S. presidents lives on in him. Dwayne Johnson once jokingly announced Hanks as his presidential running mate on Saturday Night Live. Time will tell if anything comes of it.
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