Get to Know Tom Hanks!
He plays the good guy, the nice guy, the loveable guy—the hero. Tom Hanks is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and likable actors, often likened to Jimmy Stewart. Get to know the Academy Award-winning star of News of the World, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, A Man Called Otto, and so many other riveting films.
1. That Voice Sounds Familiar!
He may have won Academy Awards for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, but Tom Hanks won over an even more critical audience—kids! Hanks is the voice of Woody in the delightful animated film, Toy Story (1995).
2. Author! Author!
Hanks is best known as an actor, director, and producer. Well, add “author” to his resume, too. In 2020 his collection of short stories, Uncommon Type: Some Stories, hit the New York Times Best Seller list. The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece, his first novel, not surprisingly about the movie industry, launched in May 2023.
If you’re lucky enough to receive a note from Tom Hanks, it will likely be on stationery and typed on a vintage typewriter—carefully considered words whose letters are inked with all their flaws and quaint idiosyncrasies. The star has a collection of 250 or more typewriters from bygone days, and he writes on one every day. Most people carry their laptops everywhere. When Hanks hits the road, he takes one of his beloved typewriters along for the ride.
4. Tom, Who?
When then-12-year-old German actress Helena Zengel was cast as young Johanna Leonberger in News of the World, she didn’t know who Tom Hanks was! “I think I’d seen The Da Vinci Code before, but I didn’t know who he was. I thought it was just some actor,” Zengel said in a 2020 New York Times interview.
5. When the Past Catches Up With You…
…in a good way! In 2013, Tom Hanks narrated National Geographic’s docudrama, Killing Lincoln, but it turns out it wasn’t just another job. Hanks is actually related to the esteemed President Abraham Lincoln through Honest Abe’s mother, Nancy Hanks. As if that unexpected connection weren’t enough, an Access Hollywood reporter surprised Hanks with an Ancestry.com report revealing the star was also related to Fred Rogers. Hanks played “Mister Rogers” in the 2019 film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a biographical film about the beloved children’s public television host.
6. In the Pink!
On April 30, 2023, Tom Hanks and wife, Rita Wilson celebrated their 35th anniversary. While we don’t know the presents the couple exchanged, the traditional gift for 35 years together is coral. In a 2015 interview, Hanks commented on their long relationship, “I think the end result is that we got married for all the right reasons.” His marriage to Wilson is his second. He and his first wife, actress Samantha Lewes, divorced in 1987 after nine years. Lewes died in 2002 of cancer.
7. The Full Monty (Python) for a Day!
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were close with George Harrison and his wife Olivia. In 2002, a year after Harrison’s death from lung cancer, several of his famous friends held a tribute to the beloved Beatle. The Concert for George took place in the Royal Albert Hall, featuring star-studded performances. One of the showstoppers was the cast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus singing “The Lumberjack Song.” Among the “Canadian Mounties” singing backup was none other than Tom Hanks!
8. Greece Is the Word…
On July 20, 2020, the Greek Prime Minister handed Greek passports to Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, making them official citizens of the charming Mediterranean country. The honor was conveyed for several reasons. In July 2018, a horrific wildfire ravaged Mati, a village close to Athens. The devastating tragedy took the lives of more than 100 people. Hanks and Wilson actively got the message out to the world. For decades, the couple traveled to Greece and eventually bought property there. Wilson is of Greek descent and Hanks converted to the Greek Orthodox Church before their marriage. Their love of the country extends to their creative projects. Hanks and Wilson are co-producers of the romantic comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and all the sequels. And for all you ABBA fans, the couple also co-produced the film version of the musical, Mamma Mia!, and its sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
“Greece is a haven … I’ve been around the world, I’ve been to the most beautiful places in the world, none of them tops Greece. The land, the sky, the water, it’s good for the soul, it’s a healing place,” Hanks said in a 2020 BBC interview.
9. The Family Business
Tom Hanks has four children—Colin and Elizabeth from his first marriage to Samantha Lewes, and Chet and Truman with Rita Wilson. Have any of them followed in their famous parents’ footsteps? But of course! Like many other Hollywood stars, past and present, whose legacies are carried on by their kids or grandkids, the future of the Hanks name in the entertainment industry is assured.
Colin is an Emmy Award-winning actor, director, and producer. Where you’ve seen him: Roswell, The Good Guys, Fargo, Life in Pieces, and The Offer, among over 60 credits. You’ll recognize him right away. He’s the spitting image of his dad!
Elizabeth has forged a career path in a different entertainment industry: publishing. Using the pen name EA Hanks, Elizabeth’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times, with a novel in the works. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t emoted in front of the camera. Where you’ve seen her: Forrest Gump, That Thing You Do!, and she worked as a voice actor in Big City Greens.
Chet (aka Chet Haze and Chet Hanx) is an actor, rapper, and the owner of HanxFit Club, an online whole-person fitness program. Chet has struggled with substance abuse since his mid-teens and credits the birth of his daughter with his ex-girlfriend as his turning point to sobriety.
Where you’ve seen him: Fantastic Four, Shameless, Empire, Your Honor, and Greyhound.
Truman, the youngest of Hanks’ children, has spent years working crew behind the scenes on movie and TV sets on productions including Succession, West Side Story, and Asteroid City, among many others. Where you’ve seen him: Though he had a momentary appearance in News of the World, his official debut occurred with his well-received performance playing young Otto in A Man Called Otto. His father played the grumpy older Otto.
10. To the Moon, Hanks!
Tom Hanks’ fascination with space sparked at age 12, when he saw Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was further fueled when the world witnessed Apollo 8 orbit the moon. Though becoming an astronaut was not in the stars for Hanks, playing one was—and it required far fewer science classes. Hanks realistically portrayed Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell in the Academy Award-nominated film Apollo 13. And from there, he continued to explore space with his feet firmly planted on Earth.
Hanks co-produced the epic, 12-part HBO mini-series, From the Earth to the Moon. The series won an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 1998. He co-wrote and co-produced the IMAX film, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D in 2005. Hanks is also on the National Space Society Board of Governors, and in 2000, he received the NASA Public Service Award. Most recently, Hanks co-wrote and narrated The Moonwalkers, an immersive multi-media experience that allows the audience to take a journey through space history from the beginning to the future of moon voyages. The exhibit runs through April 21, 2024, in London’s Lightroom, a four-story, state-of-the-art artists’ show space.
Among all of Hanks’ honors and awards, one is literally out of this out of this world. Asteroid 12818 is named for the beloved actor. So, look up into the night sky and imagine you can see the other great star called “Tomhanks.”