Are there any celebrities as universally liked as Mr. Rogers? The beloved children’s TV host spent his decades on the air trying to make the world a better place, and served as the perfect role model for kindness for generations of children.
So when it was announced there would be a Hollywood movie about Mr. Rogers, the upcoming A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, fans were thrilled to hear that he would be portrayed by one of the few actors worthy of filling his sweaters: Tom Hanks.
Like Fred Rogers, Hanks is a beloved entertainment figure who has earned a reputation as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood while remaining free from controversy. He’s about as close to Mr. Rogers as we still have, so he was a naturally pick to play him.
But it turns out, they have even more in common than you’d think, as one reporter revealed to the actor on the red carpet.
Hanks was at the premiere of his film with his wife Rita Wilson. An interviewer from Access approached the actor and revealed some surprising news that Ancestry.com had discovered:
He and Mr. Rogers are actually sixth cousins!
Yes, the TV host and the Oscar-winner share a distant ancestor: “Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather … who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century,” Ancestry spokeswoman Keri Madonna told CNN.
Rita Wilson was stunned by the news: “No, impossible! You’re pulling our leg,” Wilson told Access Hollywood.
Hanks was a bit more unfazed, but still admired the coincidence: “It all just comes together, you see,” he said.
“I’d like to see if Johnny Depp is related to Fred Rogers, can you find out from Ancestry.com?” he joked.
But watching the way Tom Hanks transforms into Mr. Rogers on screen, it’s hard to not believe they’re family.
Hanks has received rave reviews for his portrayal of Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which currently has a 96% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It comes out this Friday, November 22.
Critics say he does a great job embodying Mr. Rogers’ warmth and heart, but maybe that’s not a stretch for Hanks. After all, it’s in his genes.
What an amazing coincidence! Share this story if you love Tom Hanks and Mr. Rogers!