Tom Hanks has never been like other Hollywood celebrities.
Though he first made his mark donning a dress in the 1980s sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” Mr. Hanks became America’s everyman thanks to a goofy, relatable on-screen persona that never seemed all that different from his off-screen personality. And even as he rose from TV actor to movie star to two-time Academy Award winner, his humble attitude seemed to remain the same.
“You would never know from Tom if he has $1,000 or $1. He’s just that person,” said Michael Rosenberg, the co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment, the studio that produced “The Da Vinci Code” and other projects with Mr. Hanks. “He’s smart, authentic, real and honest. It’s hard to find all of those things in one person these days.”
So when Mr. Hanks announced on Wednesday night that he and his wife, the actress Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus, the reaction was swift and emotional. The pandemic might mangle the stock markets, shut down colleges and bring worldwide travel to a halt. But infecting the beloved Tom Hanks? That was too far, especially for many people who have not been personally affected by the spread of the virus.
People across the globe sent Mr. Hanks “get well” messages; others asked for 2020 to be canceled. Many thanked Hollywood’s unofficial goodwill ambassador for his “graceful leadership,” a phrase not often associated with A-list celebrities.
Because of the diverse projects that Mr. Hanks, 63, has chosen over his 40-year career, his fandom is both multigenerational and worldwide. Two generations (and counting) grew up hearing him as Woody, the animated cowboy he voiced in four “Toy Story” movies since 1995. “Hey Tom … my 16 yr old daughter, who worships you, literally burst into tears when CNN just reported the news,” the Twitter user Andy Ostrywrote.
Others are partial to his romantic comedies, like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Then there are his Oscar-winning performances as a history-adjacent gentle soul in “Forrest Gump” and a gay lawyer battling AIDS and discrimination in “Philadelphia.” Some prefer the ones he didn’t win an Oscar for: “Cast Away,” “Apollo 13,” “Saving Private Ryan” or “Captain Phillips,” each of them showcasing his ability to play dependable and honorable men overcoming unthinkable challenges.
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) March 12, 2020