Beloved actor Tom Hanks earned laughs as he delivered the Harvard University commencement speech Thursday, days after a bizarre episode on a Cannes red carpet in which he flashed a terse look at a festival worker.
Hanks, who received an honorary doctor of arts degree from the institution, instructed the graduate to be staunch defenders of truth and American ideals, and to avoid indifference and those who manipulate the truth for their own gain.
‘The truth to some is no longer empirical. It’s no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency,’ said the two-time Oscar winner, adding a riff about Harvard’s motto ‘Veritas,’ which is the Latin word for truth.
‘Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service. It’s no longer the salve to our fears, or the guide to our actions. Truth is now considered malleable, by opinion and by zero-sum endgames,’ he continued.
The mood was much lighter Thursday than days earlier when an angry Hanks got into a disagreement with a staff member, pointing and looking stern while on the red carpet.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson speak with a staff member as they arrive for the screening of the film ‘Asteroid City’ during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes
Hanks was in a much better mood Thursday when he addressed Harvard University graduates and told them to resist indifference
Hanks told the more than 9,000 graduates that they have a choice to make: ‘It’s the same option for all grownups who have to decide to be one of three types of Americans: Those who embrace liberty and freedom for all; those who won’t; or those who are indifferent.’
‘Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union, a nation indivisible. The others get in the way.’
Before Hanks’ speech, retiring Harvard President Lawrence Bacow introduced the celebrated actor as ‘Wilson’s bestie, Buzz’s buddy, Ryan’s savior, America’s dad,’ before presenting him with a Harvard volleyball, in reference to his film ‘Cast Away.’
Hanks briefly poked fun being awarded a shiny new degree from one of the world’s foremost universities given is lack of academic credentials.
‘It’s not fair, but please don’t be embittered by this fact. Now, without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library – in order to have anything to do with the graduating class of Harvard, its faculty, or its distinguished alumni – I make a damn good living playing someone who did,’ referencing his depiction of Robert Langdon, a fictional Harvard professor in the films based on Dan Brown’s novels.
‘It’s the way of the world, kids,’ he said.
Hanks hugged some of the graduates at the school’s 372nd commencement on Thursday
Hanks make an unpleasant face on the Cannes red carpet at the premiere of Wes Anderson’s ‘Asteroid City’
Hanks’ Ivy League triumph comes days after a viral red carpet moment at the Cannes film festival, in which he appeared to scold a younger man working at the festival.
The actor, 66, looked uncharacteristically frustrated as he jabbed a finger at the man while attending the event alongside his wife Rita Wilson, also 66.
The pair were on the red carpet for the premiere of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, a movie in which they both appear.
Actress and producer Rita could be seen holding her hand up in front of her during the interaction.
The unknown man could be seen speaking to the pair in what appeared to be an attempt to calm the situation.
However, Tom seemed to remain miffed as the trio spoke before heading down the red carpet to pose for pictures at the event. It still hasn’t been revealed what the dispute what about.
Clearly, it was something Hanks wasn’t indifferent about.