Tom Hanks defends nepo babies: ‘this is a family business’ like plumbing

Tom Hanks’ new film, A Man Called Otto comes out this Friday. As I mentioned, I loved the book upon which this movie is based and think Hanks will make a good American version of lead character. In the film, there are flashbacks to a younger Otto. Apparently, producers Tom and Rita Wilson thought their son Truman Hanks, who is an actor, would be well cast as the younger Otto, so they hired him for the role. I guess someone cried “nepotism hire!” which, of course, it was, and now Daddy Hanks has entered the Nepo Baby discussion. He said it’s fine for kids to work in the “family business,” because everyone does it.

Tom Hanks has weighed in on the ongoing debate around nepotism in Hollywood, with the A Man Called Otto star taking the stance that his and other families working in entertainment are creative businesses.

The actor was promoting the upcoming film, which sees his son Truman playing a younger version of the Oscar winner’s character, Otto. Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, co-wrote and performed an original song for the movie and also produced the film alongside her husband. While speaking to Reuters (via The Sun) in a video interview shared Wednesday, Hanks explained his position on having his four kids — all of whom he says are “very creative” and ” involved in some brand of storytelling” — working in the same, or an adjacent, industry as him.

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

Hanks has two children with his first wife — Colin and Elizabeth Hanks — and another two, Chet and Truman, with Wilson. All work in some arm of entertainment to various degrees, whether it be as actors, producers, cinematographers or musicians. Hanks noted that regardless of their last name, for him, it’s ultimately the quality of their work that matters most and speaks the loudest.

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

For Hanks, “that’s a much bigger task than worrying about whether anybody’s going to try to scathe us or not.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter via DListed]

Tom should have sat this one out. Especially since he was trying to take such a huge leap with his shoelaces tied together like this. Nepotism is the exact opposite of bringing family in to help out or sacrifice during vital/crunch time to keep the family business afloat. A Man Called Otto wasn’t going to fold if Truman wasn’t cast. Nepo Babies are the ones who benefit from the business, not the other way around. There are family business analogies Tom could have made that would have worked here and he walked right past all of them to pick the one that failed. Plus, nothing proves the Nepo Baby point more than to have Daddy coming to Truman’s defense on his hiring. Good lord, at least let Truman defend himself. And lastly, “The thing that doesn’t change no matter what happens, no matter what your last name is, is whether it works or not,” Tom is going to say this with a straight face knowing he’s defending Chet Hanks along with the rest of his Nepo Offspring?

The funniest part of all this is that Franklin Leonard, for whom I hold a great deal of respect, actual had a decent argument for the casting of Truman in this film. Tom should have retracted his answer and sent Franklin a fruit basket.

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43 Responses to “Tom Hanks defends nepo babies: ‘this is a family business’ like plumbing”

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  1. Aimee says:

    I think Colin looks way more like Tom than Truman does. I like Colin. He’s proven himself. At least they didn’t cast Chet!! That guy is a mess.

    • Erin says:

      Totally agree, I guess maybe they needed someone younger though? Idk.

    • ME says:

      Colin is a really good actor. He would have made it in Hollywood regardless of his dad and mom, though it would have probably taken him longer to get where he is today. He’s really good in “A Friend of the Family”.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      I was going to say, out of all his kids, Colin is the one who looks like Tom the most. It’s not even a contest, the guy is his almost his dad’s clone. Tom and Colin have also acted as father/son already in a movie called The Great Buck Howard (Colin is the major character, Tom only appears in a few scenes but he was a producer for the movie), so this isn’t the first time Tom has had a son with him in a movie.

  2. mtos says:

    Yah no. It’s not like plumbing. Because your kid still needs to go to school to be a plumber or electrician… do the apprentice hours, etc.
    Chet hanks gets roles because he is Tom Hanks son. Colin, although he is a great actor and has put in the work, is the same as the other nepo babies – he skips the line. Even if these kids have to audition, skipping the line, getting the audition is the nepo part. Just acknowledge it… own it. These people are exhausting.

  3. Sugarhere says:

    You can teach plumbing SKILLS but you can’t pass down TALENT. Nepotism is all about the widespread misconception that acting or singing talents are inherited.

    Miley Cyrus is a nepo kid, but that’s not what people remember her for, because she has a naturally remarkable singing voice of her own that ended up turning Mr Cyrus into a nepo dad.

    • mtos says:

      Lily Rose Depp is such a perfect example too. A 5′ nothing “model” walking for a big name like Chanel and she thinks she’s doing that because of her talent and not who her mother is. It’s laughable.

  4. OriginalLeigh says:

    I agree with Franklin Leonard because when watching shows/movies with flashbacks it always bugs me when the younger actor doesn’t look like the older actor. No comment regarding Tom’s privilegesplaining….

  5. Léna says:

    Arf, I used to love reading celebs interviews, watch press junkets on youtube. Now I’m just tired of all of them. I wish they would just shut up

    By the way, Allison williams had a pretty great answer about nepotism!!

    • Kate says:

      What did she say?

      • Léna says:

        “All that people are looking for is an acknowledgment that it’s not a level playing field. It’s just unfair,” Williams told Vulture. “Period, end of the story, and no one’s really working that hard to make it fair. To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn’t the same — it’s ludicrous. It doesn’t take anything away from the work that I’ve done. It just means that it’s not as fun to root for me.”

  6. Janey says:

    I hadn’t planned to see this anyway, but I think now I’ll never watch it just based on this. When in doubt, just say nothing.

  7. Emmi says:

    Oh Lord. First of all, the plumber will still need to learn the skills and if they don’t, the business folds. Second, Truman looks nothing like his father so that’s not the reason he got the part. House of the Dragon did a remarkable job casting younger versions of the two lead female characters. They can act, look similar, and aren’t related.

    I’m not upset over nepo babies in entertainment, it doesn’t affect me. But I see it at work. You know how many law students have lawyers as parents? You know who often gets the good internships? Yeah.

    And if I was a model and ticked all the boxes and worked hard only to have Lily Rose Depp strut past me? Oof.

  8. C says:

    I read that now it is less likely than ever for working-class people to break into the fields dominated by a lot of these nepo-babies in Hollywood. Which, given that a lot of these people end up hobnobbing with political figures or prominent people, definitely has important implications.

    Nepotism in entertainment is not like a family business. If his son doesn’t work on the movie it’s not like the family business is going to fold.

  9. Normades says:

    Calling Chet Hanks a storyteller is a very nice way of putting it *snort*.
    Tom could have made a joke about looking for an actor that looks like him (even though he doesn’t) and kept it at that. All those that get defensive and double down end up looking bad in the end.

    • Isabella says:

      Colin is a really good actor but his role in The Offer was tiresome and repetitive. I have to wonder if he would have been in so many scenes if he were’t Tom’s son.

    • molly says:

      That made me chuckle too. That “some” is doing a LOT of work in the “involved in some brand of storytelling.” ha!

  10. k says:

    This is my contribution to the nepo-baby discussion: the thing that so many celebrity responses are missing is that nepo-baby-ism is not about a child going into the family business; that happens all the time. Doctors beget doctors; lawyers beget lawyers; plumbers beget plumbers. It’s about not acknowledging the advantage of being the child of someone who has achieved huge success specifically in the entertainment field, where your name, who you know, and what you look like is SO important to getting in the door. I agree that a nepo-baby still has to have the goods. See for example Tori Spelling – HUGE career advantages, TERRIBLE actress, not a great career. But she still wouldn’t have the d-list desperate reality personality career she does have if her dad didn’t cast her on 90210. Entertainment nepo-babies are born with a foot in the door, and that advantage is an especially high factor in success in the entertainment industry.

    I don’t even begrudge nepo-babies using their connections. Of course, if you are driven to be successful in a career, you are going to take advantage of every opportunity. Its the smugness and the entitlement. Its about acknowledging the privilege.

    For example: my parents were professionals who worked for the federal government. As soon as I was born, they started saving for college because education was #1 to them. As a result, I got into a very good college and left without debt. That is how I am able to have the professional life I have now. Thank you mom and dad. I have also worked hard, gotten the grades, and put in the hours, and I am working to do the same for my kids, because I want them to have opportunities. But my journey is not the same as someone who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and put themselves through college. See? Privilege acknowledged.

    • KA says:

      I am glad you pointed out Tori Spelling. That is a classic example of nepotism. Dad creates opportunity directly for child. (Happened at my work, our COO decided his son needed a stepping stone career so he created a brand new position, hired his son, and then his son had a ton of opportunities other new hires would never have had. When he left the job, the job went away).

      But there are other degrees of nepotism. But I do wonder, what exactly qualifies. Is using your money to help your child (college, acting classes, clothes, cosmetic procedures, private schools (which beget their own connections) etc) nepotism…. or is that just privilege? Is allowing your child to have your name nepotism? Whether Tom wants it to or not, the name Hanks has weight? Is using your parents friends or connections to help you get a career nepotism? Or is it only nepotism when you get a position that doesn’t match your actual skills/qualifications? Like, if Tom Hanks called a friend about a job in the mailroom for his kid- would that be nepotism? I guess my question is… and I genuinely wonder this- is there any way for a child of Tom Hanks, or someone equally famous, ever able to get a job without the question of nepotism being attached? For instance, could the Obama girls ever?

      But I do agree that being humble and acknowledging the situation would go a long way…

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s it exactly – I don’t think it surprised anyone that the child of an actor goes into the film industry, but there’s too many of them claiming they did it all on their own and didn’t have any help by having famous parents, which simply isn’t true.

      The talented and hardworking ones will earn their career, the others will end of on reality tv and shilling stuff on instagram, but they all get there with a helping hand from their parents.

      On a side note, I am looking forward to this film, I loved the book, and got to attend a talk with the author, he was great. And I like Tom as an actor, and also agree he should have just said “he was cast for genetics”. There’s a long history of that in the industry.

      • telly says:

        The worst is when the nepo’s claim they have to work “twice as hard to prove themselves”…yeah, I don’t think you have any concept of working twice as hard as especially compared to anyone that comes from a background without wealth or privilege. And don’t give me the stories how the parents cut them off at 18, etc…

  11. Frippery says:

    Look, I know in the greater scheme of things we need to strive for equality across the board, and that unmerited nepotism is one of many factors that lead to fewer opportunities for people of color in front of and behind the camera. I’m not going to cape for nepotism.

    But I’m a little tired of this being the on-trend thing to be outraged about. Even within the microcosm of Hollywood, there are much bigger and more harmful problems that need to be addressed. And in the entire world? Kim, there’s people that are dying. I just can’t find it in me to be too upset about Tom Hanks and his Hanks juniors.

    • k says:

      Concur. “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”

    • Josephine says:

      It’s actually all related. Nepotism is a way to keep power and money in the hands of the few (i.e., it is to the benefit of mostly white, rich people). It is especially troublesome in fields that don’t have actual qualifications (acting, modeling, influencers, politicians, to name a few). Nepotism wastes talent, keeps people from reaching their potential, keeps earnnings in the hands of the few. And all of those things make the world a worse place.

  12. Julia says:

    I think Truman is not an actor, though? I seem to remember Tom saying that he wants to work behind the camera.

  13. ariel says:

    Mr. Hanks seems like a lovely man.

    But, shutting up is free.

  14. girl_ninja says:

    Tom Hanks is annoying the hell out of me as of late.

    • shanaynay says:


    • elle says:

      He has annoyed the $(&% out of me since I first clapped eyes on him in “Bosom Buddies,” and his mansplaining behavior of recent years (remember him telling us we’d be alright after The Orange Menace was elected?) just validates that for me.

      I loved “A Man Called Ove,” but I can’t even watch a trailer for the Otto movie.

  15. Emily_C says:

    If my plumber started being crap because he only got to be a plumber because his father and his father’s father was a plumber, I’d find a new plumber. Hollywood is at this point nepotism from top to bottom — writers, directors, producers, etc. And they are churning out garbage.

    Art matters deeply, centrally. We can kind of sort of exist without it, but we cannot live. And the nepotism in Hollywood is wrecking its ability to make art.

    • Twin Falls says:

      So a friend hired a contractor with a great reputation who in the middle of the project retired and handed it off to his son who made a horrible mess of it all. People have blind spots when it comes to their children. I think there is a difference in privilege from being exposed to a certain profession early, having wealth and connections to lift you up, then heading out on your own to do what you will with those advantages and a parent literally giving their adult child a job because they can.

      • lucy2 says:

        Yup. I work with a lot of contractors, and there have been several where the next generation has run the business into the ground.

    • Surly Gale says:

      @Emily_C “And the nepotism in Hollywood is wrecking its ability to make art.”
      As I read your comment I thought “Gosh, Is that why there are no fresh new ideas in Hollywood and all they can think to do is sequels, prequels and ‘revisiting’ and ‘revising’ or ‘updating’ existing stories. Because w/all the nepo babies, real creativity and real life experiences that creativity pulls from, is no longer in vogue?

  16. AppleCart says:

    I get the feeling Rita wanted him cast and Tom just goes along with it. I don’t get the sense Colin got the same leg ups in the industry. And just did his own thing. While Colin had a small part in Band of Brothers. It wasn’t until 2008 in The Great Buck Howard. Colin and Tom worked together in a Father/Son roles. And Colin was already established as an actor by then.

  17. WhatWasThat? says:

    This makes me so so mad!
    Ab-so-lutely right he should have said nothing or gone with physical similar to cast
    The privilege these people have is enormous,connections & money
    Often especially in the US they don’t even go to a drama college,they hire a coach
    When you think how many talented people struggle plus people like myself who would have loved to do theatrical/film make up for sci-fi yet had to work and couldn’t afford to be unemployed & family not able to support you unlike these kids
    Of course other advantages even to plastic surgery if you are a model/actress & want to get into that business
    Colin Hanks seems more grounded yet there are so many of these people around that give out such an entitled vibe you can see why it would be a better option to raise your child outside that bubble so they might actually value their education & develop other talents
    Rant over !

  18. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    It would be so much better if everyone wasn’t so defensive. Let the people say what they want and do your thing. But that word salad about family business is ridiculous and makes you look and sound stupid. What a shame Hanks. Let PR handle your family business.

  19. Case says:

    The only point I care about in this ongoing saga is that nepo babies simply acknowledge their privilege when asked about it. That’s literally it.

    I’ve always found it cool to find out what actors are related to each other, and it’s a practice that goes back to Old Hollywood. It’s an industry based on connections. This isn’t new. The only reason it’s so in the news is because Gen Z was shocked to learn people their age didn’t make it on Euphoria or whatever on their own.

  20. Stella36 says:

    Lol so out of touch! Except you can Basically be a plumber anywhere but can only be a Hollywood star in a very wealthy, exclusive place.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I don’t think anyone cares if a nepo baby gets a gig if the nepo baby actually has talent and can do it. The objection seems to be if they suck.

  22. Annaloo. says:

    No no no, Tom. Not like plumbing. You don’t fight to get in a room to be considered to a be a plumber. Maybe the theory about family skillsets transfer, but that’s also not true bc of the untalented nepobabies that get million dollar chances for roles their pedigrees guaranteed. Access to life pathways that lead to becoming a multimillionaire with an audience and all other things Fame bestows upon you. NOT like plumbing at all

  23. detritus says:

    Hollywood is harsh. There is no way with that jawline he’d get parts without his names influence. If he was established, or had previous work but that’s a no for me.

    He’s been ‘active’ since 2019, so the start of the pandemic. That’s it. Very few roles, mostly behind the camera.