Tom Hanks was awarded honorary Greek citizenship on Friday, the state Athens News Agency said, adding an official touch to a long love affair with the country.
A document that confirmed the distinction was signed by Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, ANA said.
The 63-year-old actor and filmmaker’s wife, producer Rita Wilson, is also of Greek origin on her mother’s side.
There is considerable pride in Greece that Hanks, one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, has a summer house on the picturesque island of Antiparos and visits every year.
Hanks has said that he feels “110 percent Greek…I’m more Greek than a Greek is” by being married to Wilson, who co-produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding with her husband.
Greece isn’t the only country Hanks has expressed an affinity with. The actor has previously talked about his love for Ireland and the influence of the late Irish actor Vincent Dowling had on him when he was a young actor.
Speaking to RTÉ Entertainment in 2016, Hanks revealed that Dowling gave him his first acting break back in the seventies when he was starting out in theatre in Ohio.
“The reason I’m here now is because of a fabulous Irishman by the name of Vincent Dowling from the great O’Herlihy clan,” he said.
“He’s the man who taught me, not only what it’s like to be an actor and to pursue it, but he also taught me that work in the theatre is more fun.”
“I’m very thankful that at a time when I was wondering what was going to come down the pike, I ran into this Irishman with a briefcase who said to me, `you just might be able to be an actor if you want it . . . but you have to want it!!!”
Hanks made his professional debut aged 20 as Grumio in a Great Lakes production of The Taming of The Shrew.
Earlier this year, Hanks also recalled the “magnificent” experience he had filming 1998’s Saving Private Ryan in Co. Wexford.
The award-winning star described his time shooting dramatic scenes on Curracloe Beach as “magic and wonderful.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Stephen Byrne the much-loved actor, remembered, in particular, a young Irish boy that made a big impression on him during his time in the sunny south-east.
“There was one day I was sitting in a car,” Hanks explained. “This young boy comes up and he’s got his wellington boots on and he’s walking along and walks by and he sees me in the car, and he keeps going but then circles back, so I’m thinking he’s coming to say ‘Hello, Mr. Hanks…’
“So I rolled down the window and I said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and he said to me, ‘Are you with the film?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I am’ and he said, ‘Ah, well, welcome to Screen’ and he mosied right along in.”
He continued: “And it’s funny, it was the most magnificent thing… we would go to work on Monday mornings and all the pint glasses outside the bars in Gorey town, on the tables and the window sills, and I was like, if this was America these would all be stolen, but here they just finish them and put them down.