Tuesday, April 20

5 Things to Know About Chet Hanks After 'White Boy Summer' Goes Viral

Forging his own path. Tom Hanks is one of Hollywood’s most beloved figures — and his son Chet Hanks has set himself apart from the rest of the pack.

Chet, 30, is the eldest son of the Sleepless in Seattle star, 64, and Rita Wilson, who wed in 1988. The couple also share son Truman, who was born in 1995. The Emmy winner was previously married to Samantha Lewes, with whom he welcomed son Colin and daughter Elizabeth, from 1978 to 1987.

While his father has a pristine reputation as “America’s Dad,” Chet’s past isn’t as clean-cut. In September 2015, the Maron alum addressed his noticeable absence from social media, admitting in a series of emotional videos that he had spent the summer in rehab.

“I just really had to take a look at myself and my life and the way s–t was going and all the crazy, stupid s–t I was doing and just finally admit to myself that it wasn’t working,” he told his Instagram followers at the time, opening up about his struggle with cocaine addiction.

Growing up in the public eye took a toll on Chet — but he was dedicated to changing his ways. “You know, at the end of the day, all that stupid s–t I was doing, that’s not who I am. That’s not who I want to be,” he continued. “It’s been a long journey discovering who I am. … If you’re struggling with this s–t, take yourself to a meeting. Call some people.”

With the support of his family, Chet began to get his life back on track, securing more acting roles and pursuing his passions. As his career progressed, the “Models” singer also became somewhat of a viral sensation on social media. In January 2020, he raised eyebrows online after sharing footage of himself speaking with a Jamaican accent at the Golden Globes. The confusion continued one year later when Chet claimed that big things were on the way for summer 2021.

“I just got this feeling man, that this summer is, it’s about to be a white boy summer,” he said via Instagram on Saturday, March 27, putting his own spin on Megan Thee Stallion‘s “Hot Girl Summer” single. “Take it how you want. … I’m talking about, you know, me, [singer] Jon B., [rapper] Jack Harlow-type white boy summer. Let me know if you guys can vibe with that and get ready, because I am.”

Chet later outlined some “rules and regs” for his summer plans — but not everyone could see the California native’s vision. “Are we sure that Chet Hanks is Tom and Rita’s biological offspring? Something’s just not adding up,” one Twitter user joked.

Others noted that the phrase might give some people the wrong idea. “‘White boy summer’ sounds like a threat, ngl,” read another tweet. “I don’t see how anyone hears that and not think it’s super racist sounding.”

The meme-worthy moment drew plenty of attention, even convincing some that the whole thing was an elaborate bit. “Even the best comedian in the world could never come up with a joke as funny as just a normal thought Chet Hanks has,” one Twitter user wrote. “His brain belongs on a museum.”

Keep scrolling to learn more about the self-proclaimed “black sheep” of the Hanks family:

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1. He’s Had Recurring Roles on ‘Empire’ and ‘Shameless’

From 2016 to 2018, Chet nabbed a small role on Showtime’s Shameless as Charlie, ex-boyfriend of Sierra Morton (Ruby Modine). He later joined the cast of Fox’s Empire, playing aspiring rapper Blake in seasons 4 and 5. More recently, he’s appeared on Showtime’s Your Honor and teamed up with his famous father in 2020’s Greyhound.

Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

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2. He Studied Theater at Northwestern University

Like his father — who pursued a theater degree from Chabot College before transferring to California State University, Sacramento — Chet gained the foundation as a student to chase his Hollywood dreams. While enrolled at Northwestern, Chet was part of the Pi Kappa Alpha frat.

Courtesy of Chet Hanks/Instagram

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3. He Previously Struggled With Substance Abuse

The Fantastic Four actor revealed via Instagram in September 2015 that he spent the summer in rehab and was “doing pretty damn good” as he continued on his path to sobriety. “A couple months ago I was selling coke [and] doing coke until I couldn’t even snort it up my nose anymore because it was so clogged. I even smoked crack,” he said at the time. “If I can change, you can change. There is a solution. … It’s been a long journey discovering who I am. Because [of] all the pressures that I’ve dealt with in my life — you know, being the son of my dad and everything. Just trying to find where I fit in.”

Weeks later, the Saving Private Ryan star told Entertainment Tonight that he was proud of his son for taking ownership of his mistakes. “As a parent, you love your kids unconditionally. You support them every step of the way,” the Oscar winner gushed. “You got to applaud the bravery and honesty when it actually comes out of your own house.”

Courtesy of Chet Hanks/Instagram

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5. He Records Music Under the Name Something Out West

Chet’s passion for music began in 2011 when he released an homage to Wiz Khalifa‘s “Black and Yellow” inspired by the Northwestern school colors, white and purple. At the time, he used the stage name Chet Haze. He later teamed up with pal Drew Arthur, releasing two singles under the name FTRZ in 2018. The duo rebranded again two years later, becoming Something Out West.

Courtesy of Chet Hanks/Instagram

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