Tom Hanks has had a busy 2019 in terms of film roles. In addition to reprising his iconic voice-acting role as cowboy toy Woody for Disney-Pixar’s unexpected yet amazing “Toy Story 4,” on the live-action side he is also taking on yet another memorable biographical role after playing Walt Disney in 2013’s “Saving Mister Banks.” For Sony-TriStar Pictures’ “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” Hanks steps into the cardigan sweater and sneakers of Fred Rogers, creator of legendary children’s educational show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The veteran actor is already proven effectively-cast as Rogers with his portrayal in trailers. Imagine Hanks’ surprise that their similarities may be due to being related.
According to CBS News, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were approached for interview by “Access Hollywood” just this Monday, November 18, during an advance screening of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at New York City. Here the interviewers revealed a report from genealogy website Ancestry.com, showing a distant relation between Hanks and Fred McFeely Rogers. The news was such a bombshell that Wilson was heard disbelieving telling “Access Hollywood” that they were “pulling her and her husband’s legs.” But when an infographic from Ancestry.com was shown to them, Hanks was pleasantly surprised.
From the research done by Ancestry.com, Hanks and Mister Rogers are sixth cousins, sharing a common ancestry in a five-times-great-grandfather, Johannes Meffert (born 1732) who immigrated from Germany to America before the US was formed. As Ancestry.com spokesperson Kerri Madonna explained on Tuesday, November 19, Meffert had two sons, Jacob (1763) and William (1760) who assumed the Americanized last name Mefford, with the actor descending from the former (via his father Amos Hanks) and the TV personality from the latter (via his mother Nancy McFeely).
Tom Hanks’ own reaction to this revelation was initially a joking request to have Ancestry.com determine if Johnny Depp was also related to Fred Rogers. Afterwards however, he was more philosophical considering how audiences have remarked on the slight resemblance between the two and how the actor managed to capture Mister Rogers’ personality onscreen. At length he notes, “It all just comes together, you see.”
Fred Rogers hosted “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” from 1968 to 2001, and later died in 2003. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” stars Hanks and Mathew Rhys under the direction of Marielle Heller. The film premieres this Wednesday on November 22.
Image courtesy of E! Online