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Tom Hanks Has Some Things to Say About the ‘Nepo Baby’ Discourse

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Hollywood mainstay Tom Hanks has been such a consistent, comforting presence in pop culture over the last 40 years that he has earned the nickname “America’s dad,” but he is also an actual dad of four.

There’s actor Colin and actress and producer Elizabeth from Hanks’ first marriage to Samantha Lewes, then “white boy summer” advocate Chet and youngest son Truman from his current marriage to singer Rita Wilson. All of Hanks’ children have carved out careers in entertainment; Truman is about to make his acting debut opposite his father in A Man Called Otto, in which he plays a younger version of Hanks’ character.

In a recent interview Hanks addressed the idea that his kids have benefited from Hollywood nepotism, responding to the present moment in which pop culture fans are obsessed with the idea of “nepo babies” such as Maya Hawke, Zoë Kravitz, and Jack Quaid, whose famous parents have supposedly opened doors to opportunities not available to other people trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

“Look, this is a family business,” said Hanks. “This is what we’ve been doing forever. It’s what all of our kids grew up in. We have four kids, they’re all very creative, they’re all involved in some brand of storytelling. And if we were a plumbing supply business, or if we ran the florist shop down the street, the whole family would be putting in time at some point, even if it was just inventory at the end of the year.”

“The thing that doesn’t change no matter what happens, no matter what your last name is, is whether it works or not,” he added. “That’s the issue anytime any of us go off and try to tell a fresh story, or create something that has a beginning and a middle and an end. It doesn’t matter what our last names are. We have to do the work in order to make that a true and authentic experience for the audience. And that’s a much bigger task than worrying about whether anybody’s going to try to scathe us or not.”

Headshot of Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.

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