Tom Hanks apparently has a closer connection to Fred Rogers than he had realized, as the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood actor literally just found out he shares a blood relation with the legendary PBS star. Of course, Rogers is just one of many real-life people to be portrayed by Hanks in a movie, but this may be the first time he's ever played one of his own family members, albeit inadvertently. The moment was even captured on video at a recent screening of the movie, which was attended by Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. On the carpet, the two were approached by an Access Hollywood reporter who informed them of the family relation to Rogers, which was evidently uncovered by the family genealogy website Ancestry.com.
According to Ancestry, Tom Hanks and Rogers share a common relative in a man named Johannes Meffert, who was born in 1732. The surname spelling was then changed to Mefford when the bloodline split, with one family tree eventually leading to Hanks while the other led to Rogers. This would mean that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are actually sixth cousins, a fact which had been lost to time over the course of several generations. While the connection is certainly very interesting when considering Hanks is playing Rogers in an all-new movie, it's ultimately not particularly shocking, as both Hanks and Rogers are also very well-known as two of the most wholesome celebrities in history.
Initially, Wilson had trouble buying the report, suggesting the reporter was pulling their leg about the apparent relation. Of course, that quickly changed when presented with the Ancestry information, leaving her pleasantly surprised. Meanwhile, Hanks took the revelation much more in stride, merely commenting, "It all just comes together." The actor goes on to jokingly suggest for Ancestry to check to see if Johnny Depp is also related to Rogers, perhaps wondering if he's just one of many celebrities to share an ancestor with the beloved TV host.
Hanks will play Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but the movie is not a typical biopic. Rather, it will follow Matthew Rhys as a struggling journalist tasked with penning a story about Mr. Rogers and his children's television show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, with his interactions with Rogers subsequently transforming his entire outlook on life. Marielle Heller directs, using a screenplay co-written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. The plot is directly inspired by a real-life Esquire article by Tom Junod, with the author's experiences with Rogers closely resembling the events of the movie. Look for it in theaters when A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood premieres on Nov. 22.
Hanks has also already lined up his next real-life celebrity to play in an upcoming movie. The acclaimed actor is set to play Elvis Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker alongside Austin Butler as the King of Rock and Roll. No word on if there's any relation there as well, but it wouldn't be surprising at this point. You can watch Hanks learning of his relation to Mister Rogers in the video below, courtesy of Access Hollywood on YouTube.