Tom Hanks unintentionally found a more immersive form of method acting: sharing DNA with his character. Hanks, 63, recently discovered he’s related to Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” fame. Hanks plays the beloved TV personality in his new film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Hanks and Rogers share a great-great-great-great-great grandfather, making the two sixth cousins, according to researchers at ancestry.com. The genealogy company constructed Hanks’s family tree by using its database of more than 20 billion online historical records, a company representative told CBS News.
“Access Hollywood” broke the news to Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, at a New York City screening for the well-reviewed film. Wilson told the reporter that she was pulling the couple’s leg while Hanks questioned how far back his connection to Rogers is.
Hanks and Wilson looked at a chart that showed his relation to Rogers stretching back to a man named Johannes Meffert, who was born in 1732. A surprised Wilson asked to keep the chart as she saw names she recognized.
Hanks joked that he would like to see whether Johnny Depp is related to the beloved children’s show host. Hanks compared wearing Rogers-style sweaters and shoes to Batman putting on his cape and cowl.
“You are definitely no longer yourself,” Hanks said. “You are this other very identified, a very almost commoditized human being that was Mister Rogers.”
Rogers once demonstrated what a minute felt like on air to his captive audience of very young children. The ability to move at a slower pace and exert the kindness that Rogers emphasized was a challenge on the first day of shooting for Hanks, he said.
Rogers died in 2003 of stomach cancer. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was on air from 1968 to 2001. Hanks’ movie hit theaters on Thursday.
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