Tom Hanks took method acting to a whole new level when he learned that he is actually related to Fred Rogers. Access Hollywood used Ancestry.com to inform Hanks that he and the children’s television show host are sixth cousins. Their common ancestor was a man named Johannes Meffert.
In his interview with Access Hollywood, shown above, Hanks said, “It all just comes together, you see.”
Hanks & His Wife Couldn’t Believe the News
When Access Hollywood told Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, they were shocked. “Impossible! You’re pulling our leg,” Wilson told the reporter.
CNN reached out to Ancestry.com, and spokeswoman Keri Madonna confirmed the relationship. “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 also reports that Mefford, Rogers and Hanks’ great-great-great-great-great grandfather, came to the US in the 18th century. Three of his sons served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
A separate statement to Today added, “Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence.”
Hanks Plays Rogers in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which was released on November 22, 2019. He was nominated for a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and Screen Actors Guild for his work in the film, which has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The New York Times wrote in their review of the movie, “‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ celebrates the virtues of patient listening, gentleness and the honest expression of feelings. It’s about how a man who has devoted his life to being kind helps a man with a professional investment in skepticism to become a little nicer.”
Hanks tells NPR he watched “about 8 million hours” of Mister Rogers to prepare for the role.
He explains, “Comedians could easily just adopt a sing-songy kind of like voice, and boom: There you had Fred Rogers commentary. When you are not delivering a punch line and you’re just trying to re-create who the man was, and the way the man thought, well, you end up starting over from whole cloth.”
Asked if he believes Rogers was performing when he played the role of Mister Rogers, Hanks shared with NPR, “He was performing in the same way a great Sunday orator performs from a pulpit. He was performing the same way a great essayist is trying to communicate and examine a theme without becoming didactic. The greatest anecdote I heard about Fred was part of it was from the magnificent documentary … Won’t You Be My Neighbor? … He was an ordained minister who … never once mentioned God in any of his television programs.”
Rogers passed away in 2003 at age 74. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for 31 seasons before ending in 2001. Last year, filmmaker Morgan Neville, the director of the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” told Today, “The stereotype of Fred Rogers is he’s a two-dimensional milquetoast who spoke in warm bromides, but the reality is he was a man of iron will on a mission to fight for goodness.”
READ NEXT: Why Is R. Kelly’s Brother Bruce In Jail?