Tom Hanks Has A Surprising View On Hollywood Nepotism

Tom Hanks has stated that Hollywood is a family business and nepotism should be ignored in favor of the quality of work for movies.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

tom hanks

Recently, there has been a lot of discourse about nepotism in Hollywood, and in particular, the children of major stars (sometimes referred to as “nepo babies”) getting opportunities that others are denied. Recently, major actor Tom Hanks has been promoting his upcoming movie A Man Called Otto which stars Tom Hanks, his wife Rita Wilson (who also co-wrote the movie and is a co-producer alongside Hanks), and his son Truman. In a recent video interview with Reuters, Hanks weighed in on the nepotism debate by declaring that “this is a family business” and that “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.”

Later in the interview, Tom Hanks focused on the idea that no matter which famous names are or are not attached to a film or television project, it’s the quality of the work that matters. “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. According to him, regardless of the names involved, “we have to do the work in order to make that a true and authentic experience for the audience.”

Tom Hanks has always been a bit like America’s boy next door, so it’s not really a surprise to see him taking a kind of centrist stand on the issue. At first glance, he is quite correct that children in any family business are likely to help with that business and benefit from it. However, some fans have taken exception to his florist shop metaphor because of the wide potential wage gap between these jobs.

tom hanks

That’s because a single Hollywood big break for a star might earn them more money than a florist shop would earn in a lifetime of doing business. It’s all a gamble for young, would-be stars, which is why so many actors living in Hollywood are content to wait tables and do odd jobs between auditions while they hope for their big break. Tom Hanks doesn’t seem to realize that simply being related to him opens many doors for his children but potentially closes those doors in the face of actors who might have been just as qualified (if not more so).

However, Tom Hanks is quite right that at the end of the day, the quality of the work is what audiences should focus on. It’s one thing for, say, Kevin Smith to cast his daughter in multiple movies trying to get her a big break of her own. But careers ultimately rise and fall based on the strength of the work, and no amount of nepotism can make films like Jay and Silent Bob Reboot more watchable.

Some of Tom Hanks’ fans were likely hoping he would be a bit more honest about Hollywood not being a level playing field as Allison Williams (daughter of Brian Williams) recently did. However, Hanks is weighing in on this discourse at the same time as he is promoting his latest movie, and openly saying that he and his family benefit from unfair advantages isn’t likely to draw a big audience. So the family patriarch is going to stick to his guns on the subject of nepotism being not that bad, but we dare say that anyone that ever tried to watch Colin Hanks be a convincing leading man is going to think otherwise.