Tom Hanks was presented with a volleyball in tribute to his ‘Castaway’ co-star Wilson as he accepted an honorary degree from Harvard University.
The Hollywood actor gave a keynote speech to more than 9,000 Harvard graduates at the institution’s 372nd commencement ceremony on Thursday as he picked up an honorary doctor of arts degree – and he was introduced to the stage by outgoing Harvard President Lawrence Bacow who handed the movie star a Wilson ball similar to the one featured in his 2000 survival film.
Hanks held the ball aloft before launching into his speech, during which he poked fun at his own lack of academic credentials and referenced the fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon he played in three movies based on Dan Brown’s novels.
The actor told the audience: “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. It’s the way of the world, kids.”
Hanks also touched on the subject of truth and disinformation in his speech to the graduates, warning them of the dangers out there in the world.
He said: “For the truth to some is no longer empirical. It’s no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency. 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.
“It’s the same option for all grown-ups 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.”