Apparently, niceness runs in the family. Prior to the New York screening of Tom Hanks’ movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hanks was told he was related to the man he played on screen — none other than Mister Fred Rogers himself.
Access Hollywood teamed up with Ancestry.com and they discovered that Hanks and Rogers are actually from the same family. Upon hearing the news, Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, scoffed in disbelief. “No, impossible. You’re pulling our leg.” Hanks, meanwhile, was more pragmatic and accepting of the news, asking, “How far away is it?”
Well, turns out Tom and Fred are sixth cousins via common ancestor Johannes Meffert. “Wait, look at, look, a Mefford!” Wilson exclaimed as she pored over Hanks’ side of the family tree. “Look, Ernest Hanks. Amos Hanks,” Wilson continued as she read the names of Tom’s grandfather and father, respectively, before asking the reporter if they could keep the paper. And while Wilson was stunned, Hanks was much more calm. “It all just comes together, you see,” before asking to know if Ancestry.com could find out if Johnny Depp had any relation to Rogers.
Hypothetically speaking, if Depp was somehow related to Rogers, would that make him related to Hanks? And then if Tom was related to Johnny AND Fred AND Abraham Lincoln, then we might all be related to Tom Hanks. Wouldn’t that be something?
“It’s no surprise they are related as the similarities between the two are uncanny,” Jennifer Utley, Ancestry.com’s director of research, said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “Even if we don’t know it, our pasts impact our present.”
Seriously, though, while genetics definitely plays a part, it’s kind of amazing that the nicest man to ever grace public-access television also happens to be cousins with the nicest man in Hollywood. Really, who better to play him on the big screen?
If you’re hoping to find some dirt on Fred Rogers in Marielle Heller’s film, think again. He truly was exactly the guy we all hoped he was so, basically, a real-life Tom Hanks. A pre-Tom Hanks, if you will. All Hanks needs to do going forward is wear non-threatening cardigans and comfy, worn loafers in his daily life and the cousins are practically interchangable. Ahh, just one more reason to love Mr. Hanks. Pfft. Like it’s that hard.
A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, which was inspired by Tom Junod’s 1998 Esquire article “Can You Say… Hero?”, follows a cynical journalist (played by Matthew Rhys) writing a profile on the man behind Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It hits theatres on November 22.