Tom Hanks is one of the very few figures in Hollywood who has remained untarnished. There doesn’t seem to be anyone with a bad thing to say about the wholesome 63-year-old actor.
It’s for that reason that his casting as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood seems completely perfect. Now news that Tom is actually related to the man behind the iconic sweaters makes it even more perfect.
Access Hollywood surprised Tom with the news at a New York City screening of the film, which already has gotten great feedback ahead of its November 22 release. Reporters approached him and revealed that they’d discovered the news thanks to research conducted by Ancestry.
It turns out that the two men are sixth cousins and share a common relative named Johannes Meffert.
Tom and wife Rita Wilson were shocked by the revelation. Rita was in disbelief, while Tom looked like it almost made sense to him, despite not having any previous knowledge of the matter.
Fans of Mr. Rogers were elated to learn Tom Hanks would play him in a biopic. Nearly two years later, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is almost in theaters. The film will premiere on November 22.
Mr. Rogers was a fantastic man who presented the world to children in an approachable and reassuring matter. He was kind and sweet. Tom, as one of the last unproblematic stars out there, seemed like a perfect fit for the role.
When photos from the movie first emerged, the choice seemed even better. Tom totally nailed Mr. Rogers’ simple but iconic look. Now we’re learning a possible reason behind the uncanny resemblance.
Access Hollywood caught up with Tom and wife Rita Wilson. The two were attending a New York City screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Reporters delivered a big surprise to Tom on the red carpet.
Access reporters revealed that they had proof that Tom is actually related to Mr. Rogers. In research conducted by Ancestry, a connection was discovered between the two. It turns out that the two men are sixth cousins.
“I want to break some news to you tonight,” the reporter told the couple. “Our friends at Ancestry.com did some digging. You are related to Fred Rogers.” The news was clearly shocking to both Tom and Rita.
“No, impossible … you’re pulling our leg,” reacted Rita. She took a look at the family tree diagram they were presented with. “It all just comes together, you see,” Tom said with a smile.
The records explained how the two men are linked. Tom and Mr. Rogers share a five-times great-grandfather. He was a German immigrant named Johannes Mefford, who was born in 1732.
That’s not all. Tom and Fred are both descendants of two brothers who fought for American independence in the Revolutionary War. It’s a very fascinating family tree that has only gotten more interesting.
“For more than 30 years, Ancestry has helped millions of people discover the story of what led to them, including the remarkable connection between Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks,” said Ancestry’s director of research, Jennifer Utley, in a statement, according to People. “It’s no surprise they are related as the similarities between the two are uncanny.”
While Tom didn’t know that he literally had it in his bones to play the role, he did know that putting on the sweater would be a special moment.
“There was a [external] version of it, in which you put on that sweater and those shoes and it’s kind of like Batman putting on his cape and cowl,” he explained. “You are definitely no longer yourself; you are this very identified, very almost commoditized human being that was Mister Rogers.”
Access also delivered the news to Mr. Rogers’ widow, Joanne Rogers. She was thrilled with Tom’s casting in the role and said that Mr. Rogers was a big fan of Tom before his 2003 death. She was so amused by the connection.
“That is just wonderful,” the 91-year-old remarked. Joanne and Fred were married for 50 years, until his death in 2003. “Now, that is amazing and Fred would have loved it. He loved family tree stuff.”
Tom’s relation to Mr. Rogers is just one of many such discoveries celebrities have made. The availability of DNA testing has made it more possible than ever to learn more about family history. We can’t help but wonder what other celebs might be related.