Tom Hanks is headed to the Ivy League!
Harvard announced Hanks will be the principal speaker during the school’s 372nd commencement ceremony on May 25. In a video that looked more like a movie trailer than a speaker announcement, Harvard decided to add a creative and humorous touch to the big news on campus.
The video called out just a handful of Hanks’ biggest roles in movies including “Forrest Gump,” “A League of Their Own,” “Cast Away” and more. But, top billing went to Sheriff Woody, who could be seen standing in one of Harvard’s hallowed courtyards.
“In a world of endless possibilities, one man is not only your favorite deputy but also the castaway you’ll never forget,” the video begins.
The video also showed that Harvard isn’t above poking a little fun at itself when talking about Hanks’ role in “The DaVinci Code.”
“[He] even managed to find the star power in a Harvard professor,” the narrator says.
Hanks, a two-time Oscar Winner and one of the most beloved celebrities in the modern era was selected by Harvard to speak to the class of 2023 for his contributions to entertainment and public consciousness.
“Over five decades, he has entertained, enlightened, and befriended us,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow in a press statement. “He has made us laugh, cry, question, and think. In addition to his brilliance as an actor, Tom has demonstrated both an innate empathy and a deep understanding of the human condition. He has contributed to our national culture and expanded our ability to appreciate stories and histories that have been previously unexamined. I very much look forward to his address in May.”
You can watch the full video announcement here:
Hanks made the news with another commencement speech back in May 2020. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when schools across the nation shut down, Hanks recorded a speech for Wright State University’s theater, dance and motion pictures class of 2020.
Flash forward to 2023, and this time Hanks will take center stage for Harvard’s first “return to the ordinary” commencement since 2020. According to The Harvard Crimson, the university canceled its graduation exercises in 2020 and 2021 and then held dual ceremonies last year, one for the Class of 2022 and a joint ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
In addition to giving the commencement address, Hanks will also receive an honorary degree from Harvard on May 25.