What You Never Knew About Tom Hanks

It's hard to think of a Hollywood actor with a more impressive resume than Tom Hanks. Since 1980, the actor has been churning out role after role and winning hearts all over the world. While he's appeared in over 90 projects over the years, some of his most memorable include "Big," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Apollo 13," "Toy Story," You've Got Mail," "Captain Phillips," "Bridge of Spies," and, more recently, "Finch" and "News of the World." And he doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon! Over the course of his long career, he has racked up six Academy Award nominations and two wins (in consecutive years, no less).

While Hanks is undoubtedly one of America's most beloved actors — in fact, in 2016 he was named "America's favorite movie star" for the fifth time — there's still a lot you might not know about him. So, without further ado, here is what you never knew about Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks thinks the '60s and '70s are the epitome of glamour

When we hear the word "glamour," some of us might imagine a specific time period. For some, it might be the sequins and sparkle of the roaring '20s. For others, it might be the hoop skirts and wigs of the 1800s. Some might even think of Y2K as the peak of fashion. For Tom Hanks, it's the '60s and '70s.

"To me, the epitome of glamour, the absolute ... As a matter of fact, if I had my way, as far as fashion and style and everything like that, I'd look like the Beatles did on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in 1964," the actor told Interview Magazine. "I'd be in a skinny-lapeled suit with a white shirt and a black tie and pointed shoes. That to me is the absolute be-all and end-all of what I think is glamour."

He also cited the films of the 1970s as being some of his favorites, including "Five Easy Pieces," "Chinatown" and "The Godfather" — all of which, he claimed, couldn't be made today. It sounds like Hanks holds a real nostalgic soft spot for that time period — and who can blame him?

Here's how Tom Hanks created his famous accent in Forrest Gump

"Forrest Gump" is probably one of Tom Hanks' best-known films — and his iconic, halting Southern drawl in the film is just as memorable. After all, we all know that famous line, "Life is like a box of chocolates." As it turns out, Hanks created that accent in a pretty surprising way.

During a visit to "The Graham Norton Show," the actor explained how he was actually primarily inspired by Michael Conner Humphreys, the young boy who played Forrest as a child. Humpreys, Hanks explained, was from Mississippi and had a very specific accent. "Somewhere I have cassettes, hours and hours of me just making chit chat with a very young Michael Conner Humphreys," Hanks said. "He was 7, 8 years old. He was a young man and that was the vernacular that we spoke in and that was priceless."

Well, clearly Hanks' technique worked — his performance as Gump has to be one of his best!

He asked to be in a Carly Rae Jepsen music video

In 2015, you may have spotted Tom Hanks in one of his most surprising roles yet — as the main character in Carly Rae Jepsen's music video for "I Really Like You." In the video, Hanks lip syncs the entire song as he gets ready for his day and walks through the city on his way to meet Jepsen. When the pair meet up, they end up dancing in the street with a bunch of back up dancers — it's pretty amazing.

While Hanks may seem like a strange fit for the video, as it turns out, the actor actually put himself up for the role. As Jepsen explained to ABC News, Hanks is friends with her manager, Scooter Braun. "He was telling him how I had this vision for like a male lead, that I wanted to have this guy sing the song rather than me, and I thought it would be really comedic and funny, especially if it was someone totally unexpected," she said. "And Tom was like, 'Well, why don't you guys ever ask me?'" Naturally, Jepsen was thrilled. "I'm like, 'Are you kidding me? That's Christmas come early! So, yes, please!'"

The actor turned down Jeff Bezos' offer to go to space because it was too expensive

Tom Hanks is no stranger to space — at least, he's no stranger to space in Hollywood. One of Hanks' best-known roles is in "Apollo 13," in which he played real-life astronaut Jim Lovell, whose mission to space almost ended in disaster. However, it seems that Hanks will probably never experience the real space. As the actor explained on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," he was invited to go to space by Jeff Bezos — but he turned down the offer.

When Kimmel brought up the Bezos offer, Hanks chimed in, "Well, yeah, provided I pay, and, you know, it costs like 28 million bucks or something like that." He went on, "I'm doing good, but I ain't paying 28 [million] bucks." Hanks and Kimmel then decided they could "simulate space." After all, as Hanks pointed out, it's pretty much just a bumpy 12 minute ride. "I don't need to spend 28 million bucks to do that," he summed up. Fair enough!

Tom Hanks once worked as a bellman in a hotel

Long before Tom Hanks was a household name, he was just another struggling actor. To make ends meet, the young Hanks took a job as a hotel bellman at the Oakland, California Hilton Airport Hotel.

"In college I was a bellboy, a bellman, for Hilton hotels," he told The Washington Post. Apparently, it wasn't actually as far off his future career as it may sound. "It was exactly like acting," he went on. "You're taking some guy to his room, you've got to size him up, figure out what he wants to hear, what he wants to find out about."

In his time as a bellboy, Hanks met the likes of Bill Withers, Sidney Poitier, Dicky Betts and Cher. "I once interrupted Chrissie Evert from her shower because I was delivering a bag to her," he recalled in an interview. "I learned that celebrities are people just like you and me — they get mad when you take them out of the shower." No wonder Hanks is has a reputation of being one of Hollywood's most down-to-earth celebs!

He thinks he peaked in the '90s

The '90s were undoubtedly a good time for Tom Hanks. It was during this decade that Hanks established himself as both a rom-com leading man and an A-list actor. He even won two consecutive Oscars during the decade. His projects included "Sleepless in Seattle," "Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump," "Apollo 13," "Toy Story," "Saving Private Ryan," "You've Got Mail" and "The Green Mile," to name just a few. It's safe to say that the '90s were, in many ways, his heyday.

As it turns out, the actor kind of agrees. During an interview with John Oliver at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019, Hanks claimed, "I peaked in the '90s." According to Thrillist, the crowd took this statement as a joke and burst into laughter. After all, Hanks has had a pretty impressive career in the past two decades, too — and we would hardly say that it's been going downhill!

While filming Cast Away, Tom Hanks took a year-long break to lose weight for the role

As anyone who has seen the film knows, "Cast Away" is one of Tom Hanks' most memorable films — and it certainly wasn't an easy one for the actor. The movie follows a young man who is stranded on an island alone as he tries to stay alive until he is rescued. It seems that Hanks didn't take the role lightly. In fact, he reportedly took a whole year off filming to lose weight — 50 pounds to be precise — to make himself look like a real castaway.

"The only way I could then really make it become fiscally sound was to do another movie in between," director Robert Zemeckis said in the commentary of the film, "so that I could just roll the production company onto another movie so that we didn't have to pay people for sitting around for a year." He ended up making the movie "What Lies Beneath" during the gap (via CinemaBlend).

Tom Hanks went on vacation with the Obamas — but it wasn't all glamorous

As if Tom Hanks wasn't cool enough already, it turns out he's also buddies with the Obamas. In fact, in 2017, they even went on vacation to French Polynesia together, along with Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen. During the trip, the group decided to rent bikes. As Hanks explained on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," they were quite a large group, as the secret service had to come with them.

"There were some great bikes there, there were some just fine and dandy bikes, and there was one piece of junk, hunk of junk bike," he said. "Who do you think got the piece of junk, hunk of junk bike? ... It was an undersized girl's bike." Apparently, the secret service all grabbed the good bikes and left the rusted, small, single gear, "junk" bike for Hanks. Hanks then demonstrated trying to pedal up a huge hill on the tiny bike. "It was miserable," he summed up.

The actor is a huge fan of typewriters

Acting isn't Tom Hanks' only passion — he's also a big collector of typewriters. In 2017, he even wrote a book about them, called "Uncommon Type." The book features a series of short stories, each of which includes a typewriter. He also appeared in a documentary called "California Typewriter." 

So, why the obsession? "There's something about — I don't know, it's a hex in my brain — there is something I find reassuring, comforting, dazzling in that here is a very specific apparatus that is meant to do one thing, and it does it perfectly," he told NPR. "And that one thing is to translate the thoughts in your head down to paper. Now that means everything from a shopping list to James Joyce's 'Ulysses.' Short of carving words into stone with a hammer and chisel, not much is more permanent than a paragraph or a sentence or a love letter or a story typed on paper."

Apparently, Hanks' appearance in "California Typewriter" even led to a resurgence of popularity for the typewriter!

Tom Hanks loves these three Tom Hanks movies

Tom Hanks has been in plenty of amazing movies in his time. So, it's hardly surprising news that he thinks a few of them are pretty good! In a 2021 interview with "Today," the actor confessed his three favorite movies that he's starred in — and his answers aren't what you might have guessed. For the most part, his favorite movies have been the ones where he got to have a special experience with his family close by.

"I would probably say number one would be 'League of Their Own,' because all I did all summer was play baseball," he began. "Then I would say 'Cast Away' because ... We just had bold adventures when we were making that movie." As he went on to explain, he and his whole family were in Fiji while he made the movie. "The last film I would say that was magical for me was a movie called 'Cloud Atlas.'"

He turned down the leading role in Jerry McGuire

It's hard to imagine anyone but Tom Cruise in the titular role in "Jerry McGuire" — but it turns out, Tom Hanks was actually the director's first choice. In fact, Hanks was also initially on board to do the film. "I talked to Cameron Crowe about it about a year in advance and then during that time my good friend ... Jonathan Demi and I were talking about stuff that we wanted to do and I had this idea for 'That Thing You Do,'" he told "Access." Unfortunately, by the time "Jerry McGuire" got off the ground, Hanks was already busy with "That Thing You Do." "I was not available then to work with Cameron Crowe on the movie — I would like to think, however, that Tom Cruise owes me one dollar," he joked.

As for Tom Cruise, he later told "Access," "He would have done something very special with it also. ... I love his work." Sounds like Cruise doesn't hold a grudge for being the second choice!

Tom Hanks became a Greek citizen in 2020

Tom Hanks may be an all-American movie star, but as of 2020, he's also Greek. His wife, Rita Wilson, has Greek heritage, so before they married, Hanks converted to the Greek Orthodox Church (via BBC). Hanks and Wilson have visited Greece many times through the years. In 2020, it was announced that the couple and their children were given honorary Greek citizenships after they helped to raise awareness for a wildfire that caused destruction near Athens in 2018.

"Starting 2020 as an honorary citizen of all of Greece!" Hanks wrote on Twitter at the time. It's clear that Hanks is thrilled to be an honorary Greek. "I've been Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years. Greece is a haven ... I've been around the world, I've been to the most beautiful places in the world, none of them tops Greece," Hanks once said. "The land, the sky, the water, it's good for the soul, it's a healing place."

He really loves London

Greece isn't the only place that Tom Hanks loves to visit — he's also a huge fan of London, England. As the star explained to Time Out, before his career took off, he had never visited the city. "I actually never came to London on my own dime. The first time I came was to do press in 1984 on 'Splash,'" he said. However, since then, he's fallen in love with the city and seen all of the classic tourist sights. "I've seen the Cabinet War Rooms and the Tower of London," he said, "but the best times have been when I've had a day off here. I've taken a nap in Hyde Park; I fell in love with Wagamama — I have my haunts." 

Hanks is also a big fan of the U.K.'s national broadcasting service, the BBC. During an appearance on "The One Show," he stopped the conversation to say, "Can we just say how great the BBC is? You're not going to get that live every night in the United States ... that is just something else" (via Indy100).

At this rate, he's practically a real Londoner!

Tom Hanks has several famous (distant) relatives

Ever wondered where Tom Hanks' talent came from? Well, as it turns out, it may be hereditary, because the actor has quite a few famous relatives. For one thing, the actor is distantly related to President Abraham Lincoln. As he revealed in the documentary "Killing Lincoln," his family tree extends back to Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. "The members of my branch of the family are either cousins or in-laws or poor relations," he explained. "So when I was at school, guess which president I was always doing essays on" (via Ancestry).

And Lincoln isn't his only famous relative. Hanks is also distantly related to actor George Clooney (who is also related to Lincoln). "They both have deep roots in Kentucky, so once we honed in on that we were able to find a connection between the two," Ancestry.com's Michelle Ercanbrack told People (via ET). Apparently, Clooney is related to Lucy Hanks, Lincoln's grandmother — so, he and Tom Hanks are relatives if you go way, way back.