The religion and beliefs of actor Tom Hanks.

Popular Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has enjoyed a tremendous career. His ability to adapt and take on diverse roles has been proven in movies like Forrest Gump, Toy Story, and You’ve Got Mail. He has inspired, and changed many lives the world over. Known as Hollywood’s nicest guy, you’d never guess the harrow and heartache of his childhood.

Hanks came from very humble beginnings and he has been shaped by experiences and positive attitude. He was born on July 9, 1956 in Concord, California. At 5-years-old his father took him and his two siblings to Reno, NV when his parents divorced. This marked the beginning of Hanks’ tough life journey as he was very affected by the divorce due to his young age.

In his early school years he wasn’t very popular with his teachers or fellow classmates. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Hanks confessed “I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who’d yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn’t get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible.”

Young Tom moved from one town after another because of his father’s job, and by the age of ten, he had attended at least five different grammar schools and lived in more than ten houses. Eventually, in 1966 they settled down in Oakland, California. The frequent shift to different towns gave him a special experience which played a great role in his acting career as he learned how to be flexible in situations.

Tom’s family identified themselves with Catholic and Mormon faiths, and he described himself as a “Bible-toting evangelical” as a teen attending Skyline High School. At Skyline he found his confidence. He enjoyed and excelled in sports until he saw his friend’s performance in the school’s production of Dracula. Focused and driven, he then joined Thespian club where he started as stage manager for My Fair Lady and accepted the chance to learn.

Tom then received the prestigious award of best actor in high school for his performances in Night of the Iguana, Twelfth Night, and South Pacific. He felt motivated and continued to excel in acting even after school.

After his high school studies, Tom advanced with his acting career at California State University. He enjoyed all the acting classes and he said, “Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant. … I spent a lot of time going to plays. I wouldn’t take dates with me. I’d just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat and read the program, and then get into the play completely. I spent a lot of time like that, seeing Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Ibsen, and all that.”

Since then, Tom Hanks has climbed the ladder to greater heights earning numerous awards, including two Academy Awards and recognition all over the world. However, Tom attributes his achievements to his family and their strong faith in God.

Hanks married actress Rita Wilson in April of 1988. His wife Rita confirmed that they have always included God in all their plans and family life. “God is a part of our life. Every single day, I prayed to God for I don’t know how many years that he would bring me somebody that I loved […] that loved me in the same way, and he brought me Tom, so I believe in that,” Rita said.

They have always loved each other passionately which was evidenced during their anniversary last year when Rita revealed she was battling cancer and spoke proudly of Tom’s support and love for her. The following week, with her husband by her side, and with the love and support of family and friends, Rita underwent bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma.

Tom Hanks has demonstrated that his personal relationship with God has enabled him to rise from a humble beginning to a star who is recognized globally. He encourages people with humble beginnings to never give up on God.

“As long as you as an individual…can convince yourself that in order to move forward as best as you can, you have to be optimistic, you can be described as ‘one of the faithful,’ one of those people who can say, ‘Well, look, something’s going to happen! Let’s just keep trying. Let’s not give up.” -Tom Hanks.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter