Tom Hanks has played many different roles—Forrest Gump, Woody, Turner, Captain Phillips, Sully, and Mr. Rogers to name a few. One role that he never asked for, though, was among the visible famous faces of the coronavirus pandemic. As with all his other roles, Hanks handled it with grace, sincerity, and honesty. Now, in a new interview Hanks talks about being hit with the virus and the very different reactions he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had to COVID-19.
Hanks went public with his diagnosis in a tweet on March 11, telling the world that he and his wife, the actor and singer Rita Wilson, had both tested positive for the coronavirus. He shared his experience and the world got to learn a little bit more about the virus when the growing health threat was first making headlines.
Fans followed along as Hanks and Wilson went from isolation in Australia, where they were originally diagnosed, offering updates on their recovery, urging others to stay safe, and eventually traveling back to the U.S. His missives helped make the virus all the more real to people. In a new interview with The Guardian, the Oscar-winning actor explained how he managed to stay calm, even though he is in a high-risk group. “When we were in the hospital, I said: ‘I’m 63, I have type 2 diabetes, I had a stent in my heart – am I a red flag case?’” He was told that as long as his temperature stayed low and he did not get pneumonia, his doctors would not be worried. That was enough to help him stay relaxed. “I’m not one who wakes up in the morning wondering if I’m going to see the end of the day or not,” he said. “I’m pretty calm about that.”
While he wasn’t unsettled, he was surprised about his and Wilson’s difference in reaction to the virus. “Our discomfort because of the virus was pretty much done in two weeks and we had very different reactions, and that was odd,” he told The Guardian. “My wife lost her sense of taste and smell, she had severe nausea, she had a much higher fever than I did. I just had crippling body aches, I was very fatigued all the time and I couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than about 12 minutes.”
“That last bit is kinda like my natural state anyway,” Hanks joked.
As he has recovered from the virus, Hanks doesn’t want anyone else to get it, pointing out the importance of wearing masks to help slow the spread of the virus. “There’s really only three things everyone needs to do: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands,” said Hanks. “I know societally it’s been politicized, but I don’t get it, man. I don’t understand how anyone can put their foot down and say: ‘I don’t have to do my part.’” That’s just the kind of response one would expect from America’s Mr. Nice Guy.