Tom Hanks is one of the most beloved actors and public figures in Hollywood and across the world. The two-time Oscar winner received critical acclaim for his dramatic performances in films such as Philadelphia (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), but sealed his status as a household name through comedic roles in Big (1988) and the Toy Story franchise.
In the live-action remake of Disney’s Pinocchio, Hanks plays Geppetto, the eccentric carpenter that helps bring the puppet to life. The role is just one of many iconic characters the actor has played throughout his long and fascinating career filled with a variety of diverse roles.
Tom Hanks is one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood, so it’s fair to say that he’s an extremely busy man. When Tom is unavailable for voice work, particularly for Woody in the Toy Story franchise, a familiar voice steps in.
Tom’s brother, Jim Hanks, takes on Woody’s voice in video games, toys, and other work involving Woody, thanks to his identical impression of the character. Tom Hanks revealed that it takes up to a year at a time to fulfill these projects, so Jim happily steps in (via Lad Bible).
Tom Hanks has frequently played real, historical figures throughout his career, most recently Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis. What many fans may not know, as Hanks also wasn’t initially aware, is that the actor has played his family members.
After playing famous television presenter and reverend Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Hanks discovered that he and Mister Rogers are actually sixth cousins after filming wrapped (via CNN). He is also said to be distant cousins of Walt Disney, who Hanks portrayed in Saving Mr. Banks (via IMDB).
Hanks is related to a number of famous faces in history – and not just the ones he has portrayed in a movie. The actor is also a distant relative of perhaps the most famous American of all – President Abraham Lincoln (via Time).
Perhaps Tom Hanks’ widespread appeal with audiences is partly due to his relation to other widely beloved figures in American culture. Although Hanks did not portray Lincoln in the biographical film Lincoln (2012), his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg directed the film.
At the time of its release, Forrest Gump (1994) was the biggest hit of Tom Hanks’ career. The film won the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Picture and was a gigantic hit at the box office – but the film was predicted to be a failure before its release.
The film studio did not want to grant the production a huge budget, so the actor stepped in to help fund what he deemed to be crucial scenes in the film, most famously the scene of Forrest running cross-country. Hanks also offered to be paid by how much the film earned at the box office – which turned out to be far more lucrative (via The Hollywood Reporter).
Through his marriage to Greek-American actress Rita Wilson and charity work for the nation, Tom Hanks is an honorary citizen of Greece. He also joined the Greek Orthodox Church upon his marriage to Wilson.
Although he may not star in the films himself, Tom Hanks helped bring two of Greece’s most famous film franchises to the big screen. Both he and Rita Wilson are executive producers of the My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Mamma Mia! movies (via E! News).
Before finding fame as a Hollywood actor, a young Tom Hanks worked at a hotel as a bellman in Lose Angeles to make ends meet while he learned acting in the theater. The young Hanks met multiple celebrities at this hotel, notably Cher and Sidney Poitier (via Daily Express).
In an odd coincidence, Hanks, along with Poitier and Cher, all became lead actor Academy Award winners. Tom won for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump in 1993 and 1994 respectively, while Poitier won for Lilies Of The Field in 1965 and Cher for Moonstruck in 1988.
Outside of acting, Tom Hanks has a fascination with vintage typewriters. He revealed to fellow collectors that he currently owns over 250 vintage typewriters, and “that 90% of them are in perfect working order” (via Typerwriters.com).
In a kind gesture, Hanks reached out to a young boy named Corona, who was struggling with bullying due to his name during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Hanks, who was then recovering from the virus, sent the boy his vintage Corona typewriter and a heartfelt letter declaring “you’ve got a friend in me” (via BBC).
Due to his keen collector’s habit, Tom Hanks decided to introduce his love of typewriters into the modern age. In 2014, Hanks helped develop and release a typewriter app for the iPad, that functions with the same keyboard and typing noises as a physical typewriter.
The app is called “The Hanx Writer”, and is free to download for iOS users. The actor joked that “Hanx Writer is just my little gift to the future Luddite hipsters of the world” (via USA Today).
Tom Hanks’ family – notably wife Rita Wilson and sons Colin and Chet Hanks – are stars in their own right, with each of them working as professional actors in multiple famous productions. Although their careers are largely in separate respective spheres, the family worked together on screen in Hanks’ directorial film debut.
That Thing You Do! is a 1996 musical film about the life of a short-lived band, and was met with acclaim for Hanks’ directing. Rita Wilson plays a waitress the leading character takes a romantic interest in. His son Colin and his daughter Elizabeth make cameos credited as “Male Page” and “Bored Girl in Dress Shop”, respectively (via Entertainment Tonight).
Although Tom Hanks is capable of impressive dramatic performances, he does not go method for his acting, preferring to unwind and interact with extras between filming. Behind the scenes of A League of Their Own (1992), in which Hanks played no-nonsense coach Jimmy Dugan, fellow actors recalled their time with the actor fondly.
Locals hired to play extras on location in Indiana had to “dress up in period costumes, sit in the stands and roast in the unrelenting August heat, sometimes for hours at a time” actress Geena Davis revealed in a column that she wrote. “Tom would take it upon himself to entertain the crowd. He’d put baseball hats on bats and did a little puppet show from behind the dugout” (via The Hollywood Reporter).
NEXT: 10 Movies & TV Shows Where You’ve Seen The Cast Of Pinocchio Before