No, Tom Hanks Did Not Flee to Greece to Avoid Pedophilia Charges, You Sickos
The wacky QAnon/Pizzagate conspiracy-theory crowd somehow believes one of Hollywood’s most beloved nice-guy actors is an accused pedophile, despite zero evidence supporting it.
On Monday morning, while doomscrolling past the news of the day, I came across a rare, non-portentous item: a photo of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. The Hollywood couple was captured awkwardly balancing Greek passports, alongside the prime minister and first lady of Greece, accompanied by the caption: “@ritawilson @tomhanks are now proud Greek citizens!”
So I screengrabbed the photo—courtesy of Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis—and posted it to Twitter because, why not? As someone who’s been quarantining in Brooklyn since mid-March (thanks, President Trump!), and dreaming of an island getaway, it seemed like harmless, escapist fare.
Then, the replies began rolling in. “Why are their hands behind backs? Tracking bracelets?” “What is Greece’s law when it comes to extradition?” “Funny they are making lots of moves now people know he’s on Epstein’s flight logs.” And the kicker: “Let’s all not forget that he’s a pedophile.”
I received hundreds upon hundreds of messages labeling Hanks—the eminently likable star of Big and Turner & Hooch, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, the loving father of a white “rapper,” and a man whose biggest fetish is old typewriters—a “pedophile” on the run from the law after being listed in the flight logs from late sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet, dubbed the “Lolita Express.”
Many of the messages came dotted with pizza emojis, a nod to “Pizzagate,” the debunked conspiracy theory pushed by members of the alt-right 4chan set alleging that the hacked emails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, contained coded language suggesting the Democrats’ involvement in a child sex-trafficking ring. In recent years, Pizzagate has evolved into QAnon, an even kookier far-right fantasy that Trump is waging a covert war on a powerful cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who control Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.
So how did Hanks, by all accounts a swell guy—perhaps this generation’s Jimmy Stewart—become involved in all this madness?
Hanks has been openly critical of Trump in the past, but in March, when he and his wife, Rita Wilson, became the first big American celebs to test positive for the novel coronavirus, the actor became a more pronounced Trump foe, at least in the eyes of his more conspiratorial followers.
While Trump was busy downplaying the virus, Hanks was front and center, speaking to its seriousness and criticizing the president’s response. This vocal opposition led Trump’s keyboard army to circulate a number of conspiracy theories on 4chan, Reddit, Facebook, and YouTube connecting Hanks to pedophilia, including that he was under house arrest for child sex trafficking (false); that his name was in Epstein’s flight logs, taking the “Lolita Express” to his “Pedophile Island” (false—Epstein’s full flight logs can be accessed here and Hanks’ name is nowhere to be found); and that Hanks was arrested in Australia for pedophilia (false).
The truth is far less remarkable.
Hanks’ wife of 32 years, Wilson, has a Greek mother (Dorothea Tzigkou) and is a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Church (Hanks converted to marry her). The couple produced the 2002 box-office hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, along with a TV series adaptation and sequel; have summered for years at their vacation home on the Greek island of Antiparos (here they are holidaying with Matthew McConaughey, looks fun); and in 2018, helped raise millions after deadly wildfires tore through the seaside village of Mati. The latter act earned Hanks and Wilson (along with their two children) honorary Greek citizenship on Dec. 27, 2019.
“Tom Hanks is a person who showed real interest in the people who suffered from the fire in Mati and promoted this issue in the global media,” Greek Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos announced in a statement at the time. “[He] promotes Greece through his frequent visits during summer in Antiparos where he owns property.”
Meanwhile, in addition to spending every summer there, Hanks has been singing Greece’s praises for decades.
“I’ve been Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years,” Hanks said at this year’s Golden Globes. “Greece is a haven... I’ve been around the world, I’ve been to the most beautiful places in the world, none of them tops Greece. The land, the sky, the water, it’s good for the soul, it’s a healing place.”
So really, by branding Hanks a “fugitive pedophile” for being awarded Greek citizenship, these conspiracy theorists are smearing a humanitarian for his wildfire-relief efforts, which just goes to show you how ugly and insidious these baseless lies are.
Twitter, do better.