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Tom Hanks Speaks Out on Nepotism Controversy in Hollywood

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Over the last few weeks of 2022, movie fans online started to talk about the issue of nepotism in Hollywood — and in a new interview, award-winning actor Tom Hanks more or less acknowledges that the phenomenon exists, but also dismisses it as not relevant to the overall culture of the entertainment industry. Hanks calls Hollywood acting a “family business,’ comparing it to bringing your kids into a retail store you run, and says that ultimately, it’s still talent that will win the day in the end, because it doesn’t matter who you are if you suck.

Hanks is currently out promoting A Man Called Otto, in which he stars alongside his son Truman. Hanks’s son Colin has also been acting in Hollywood consistently since the 1990s, with his feature film debut being a small role in That Thing You Do!, a movie starring and directed by Tom Hanks.  

“Look, this is a family business,” Hanks told The Sun. “This is what we’ve been doing forever. It’s what all of our kids grew up in. 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.”

That said, he claims that ultimately having connections only gets you in the door, and that everyone needs to earn their place at the table if they hope to have long-term success.

“The thing that doesn’t change no matter what happens, no matter what your last name is, is whether it works or not. 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. 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.”

To Hanks’s credit, his own kids seem like evidence that there’s some credibility to his comments. After all, hsi daughter Elizabeth started in Hollywood a couple of years before Colin did, but has never risen to stardom and rarely works on any big projects (her last credit was a small voice role in Big City Greens). And with Truman Hanks…well, it’s a little more complicated.

So far, Truman’s IMDb page reads more or less exactly like you would expect any young, aspiring actor’s to. He worked in small crew roles on projects like Babylon Berlin, News of the World, and Black Widow (among other things) and has only two relatively small acting roles (in News of the World and A Man Called Otto). From the outside, that certainly reads as the traditional Hollywood story of an actor who started as a production assistant and worked their way into the audition room — except of course that both of his acting roles have been in movies where his father was the star and the film’s main draw. That changes the math, because there was somebody there holding the audition room door open for him.

Ironically, the “nepo baby” controversy started as a niche “film Twitter” argument and has ballooned into a topic in the broader culture, in part because beloved actors like Hanks and Jamie Lee Curtis have been trying to downplay it. The degree to which it will have any impact between being an internet conversation that makes some movie stars feel bad for a few weeks is anybody’s guess.

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