Facts About Tom Hanks We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'

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Vote up the most facts you find most awesome about Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks has been dubbed "America's Dad" for his lovable nature and wholesome attitude. It helps that he's starred in some of the most memorable and beloved films also, including Cast Away, Forrest Gump, and Toy Story. But whether you love him on-screen and off or not, he's graced your screen and front pages many times over the past 40 or so years. Despite his popularity since his breakout role in Splash, there are still so many more facts about Tom Hanks we haven't learned yet. 

Interesting facts about Tom Hank's life including hobbies, behind-the-scenes secrets, and pre-fame letters are things we didn't know we needed in our lives, but boy are we glad to have learned them. Vote up the facts you find most intriguing about Tom Hanks.

  • He's An Honorary Member Of The U.S. Army Rangers
    Photo: Saving Private Ryan / DreamWorks Pictures
    352 VOTES

    He's An Honorary Member Of The U.S. Army Rangers

    The film Saving Private Ryan is highly acclaimed for being one of the most accurate war movies of all time. In the movie, Tom Hanks plays US Army Ranger Captain Miller who leads a team of men through WWII to rescue a young private whose brother was recently lost in a battle. Aside from this role, Hanks has also been an advocate for those who have served in the US Army in other ways including being a spokesman for the WWII Memorial Campaign and working on producing the miniseries Band of Brothers.

    For the work he's done in this field, Hanks was inducted into the US Army's Rangers Hall of Fame as an honorary member in 2006.

    352 votes
  • Tom Hanks took on the role of Woody in the hit animated flick Toy Story in 1995, and the character would feel very different if he had anyone else's voice - or would he? But the truth is, Hanks is not always the voice of the toy cowboy. Occasionally, Tom's brother Jim takes on the role because their voices are nearly identical. Tom relinquishes control over all things Woody to Jim whenever he's too busy or for the smaller roles, such as those in video games. In an interview with Graham Norton, Tom revealed that actual Woody dolls with the voice are in fact programmed with Jim's voice. The one part of the Woody domain that Tom refuses to share, however, are the films themselves.

    477 votes
  • Tom Hanks got an Oscar for Forrest Gump, but the film's production wasn't all smooth sailing. Budget overruns were one problem: to complete some of the scenes - most notably the cross-country running sequence - Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis had to put in their own money. Apparently, in order to approve some scenes for the budget, Hanks and Zemeckis put in the money to cover the cost in exchange for a greater cut of the profits.

    370 votes
  • In 1975, when Tom Hanks was a young 17-year-old who dreamed of stardom, he looked for any way to be noticed. One of the funniest ways he tried to garner enough attention to make it on screen was to send a letter to director George Roy Hill. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Tom Hanks provided that letter after he hit it big:

    Dear Mr Hill,

    Seeing that I have seen your fantastically entertaining and award-winning film The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and enjoyed it very much, it is all together fitting and proper that you should ‘discover’ me. Now, right away I know what you are thinking: ‘Who is this kid?’ and I can understand your apprehensions. I am a nobody. No one outside of Skyline High School has heard of me … My looks are not stunning. I am not built like a Greek God, and I can’t even grow a mustache, but I figure if people will pay to see certain films … they will pay to see me.

    Let’s work out the details of my discovery. We can do it the way Lana Turner was discovered, me sitting on a soda shop stool, you walk in and notice me and – BANGO – I am a star. Or maybe we can do it this way. I stumble into your office one day and beg for a job. To get rid of me, you give me a stand-in part in your next film. While shooting the film, the star breaks his leg in the dressing room, and, because you are behind schedule already, you arbitrarily place me in his part and – BANGO – I am a star.

    All of these plans are fine with me, or we could do it any way you would like, it makes no difference to me! But let’s get one thing straight. Mr. Hill, I do not want to be some bigtime, Hollywood superstar with girls crawling all over me, just a hometown American boy who has hit the big-time, owns a Porsche, and calls Robert Redford ‘Bob.’

    Respectfully submitted,

    Your Pal Forever,

    Thomas J Hanks

    While it wasn't Mr. Hill who discovered the young actor, Hanks would soon find the stardom he sought when he was cast as the leading role in the hit film Splash in 1984.

    330 votes
  • He's Distantly Related To Fred Rogers - Who He Played In A Biopic
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    While filming A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood where Tom Hanks portrayed Mister Rogers himself, Hanks found out that he was actually distantly related to the children's show star. Ancestry tests have determined the link between the two American sweethearts, stating they're sixth cousins. The connection comes from their mutual five times great-grandfather. When Hanks revealed the surprise relation he said, "It just all comes together, you see."

    262 votes
  • A lesser-known fact about the filming of Cast Away is that it was filmed in two different chunks - the first half was filmed before taking a year hiatus and then coming back to film the second half. When Hanks started the role as stranded Chuck Noland, he gained a little extra weight to pull off the middle-aged man look. But when filmed halted for a year, instead of working on another film as most of the crew did, Hanks set himself on a strict diet to not only lose the weight he gained for the role, but to get dangerously thin to pull off looking as though he was actually stranded on a deserted island. In four months, Hanks lost 55 pounds by sticking to a strict diet and exercising at length.

    Hanks claims he was not worried about his health, but has since revealed he has Type 2 diabetes which will keep him from fluctuating his weight dramatically for any future roles. 

    260 votes