There’s few other actors who have the innate and bottomless decency to play Fred Rogers, but truly none of us had any idea how perfect the casting was: The two appear to be relations. Distantly, but still. How weird.
As caught by Entertainment Weekly, an Access Hollywood journalist caught up with the two-time Oscar-winning actor and his wife Rita Wilson at an advance screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the forthcoming docudrama in which he plays the PBS legend. And this journalist had done her homework. She came armed not only with questions but some deep research: As per an ancestry.com search, Hanks and Rogers are cousins six times removed, sharing a common ancestor named Johannes Meffert.
Wilson and Hanks were taken aback, though Hanks was able to come up with a tension-dissolving quip, saying, “It all comes together, you see.”
In the film — which is due November 22, and which arrives just over a year after the hit doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — Hanks plays the middle-aged Rogers as he’s profiled by an Esquire journalist, played by Matthew Rhys, whose troubled past comes under scrutiny by the ever-patient and kind television personality.
Anyway, journalists, you know what to do: Next time you’re interviewing an actor playing a real-life person, go online and see if they happen to be related. You never know! After all, 1 in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.
You can watch Hanks and Wilson receive the news above.