Tom Hanks just found out some shocking genealogical news, a revelation which could explain how he nailed the role in his most recent movie. At a screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the 63-year-old actor found out that he is a real-life relative of Fred Rogers, the children’s TV legend he plays in the film.
Hanks got the news from Access Hollywood while on the red carpet. The two-time Oscar-winner was told that an Ancestry.com family tree for the Hanks and Rogers families revealed a common ancestor named Johannes Meffert. Hanks, born in 1956, and Mister Rogers, born in 1928, are reportedly sixth cousins.
While Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, accused the outlet of pulling her husband’s leg, the celebrity couple eventually realized they weren’t being played. Hanks and his wife even asked if they could keep the ancestry chart.
“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks said.
Wilson called the coincidence “crazy,” while Hanks quipped, “Well I would like to see if Johnny Depp is related to Fred Rogers, can we find that out?”
Hanks also said it wasn’t all that hard to play the PBS children’s television legend.
“When you put on that sweater and those shoes, it’s kind of like Batman putting on his cape and cowl,” the actor said. “You are definitely no longer yourself.”
This is not Hanks’ first time starring in a project about one of his relatives. The actor’s role as narrator for National Geographic’s 2014 documentary Killing Lincoln was also a family affair. Hanks is related to President Abraham Lincoln through Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, according to Ancestry.com.
While he shares DNA with Mister Rogers, Hanks previously told Entertainment Tonight he couldn’t be any more different from the man he plays onscreen in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
“I’m nothing like Fred Rogers in any way, shape, or form,” Hanks recently said. “Except, I think, I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘Hey, it’s a nice day, it’s a good day. Let’s try to make it a little bit better.'”
Hanks previously admitted he wasn’t a big fan of his sixth cousin’s TV show when he was growing up.
“I was too busy watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, and stuff like that,” Hanks admitted, according to Vanity Fair.
A 1981 clip of Mister Rogers’ show, in which the TV host is gently interacting with a boy in a wheelchair, converted the actor. Hanks revealed that the episode had him “bawling,” and it was one of the reasons why he agreed to play Rogers in the movie.
As previously shared by The Inquisitr, Hanks was first pictured dressed as Mister Rogers in March, when a still photo of him in that telltale red sweater was released on what would have been the late PBS star’s 91st birthday.