Harvard University Names Tom Hanks 2023 Commencement Speaker: 'A True Master of His Craft'

Tom Hanks will be awarded an honorary degree at Harvard University's commencement on May 25

Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Dole Foundation CEO Steve Schwab and honoree Savannah Guthrie attend the Elizabeth Dole Foundation's 10th Anniversary Heroes and History Makers Celebration
Tom Hanks. Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Tom Hanks is heading to Harvard University this spring.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Hanks, 66, will be the principal speaker at Harvard's 372nd commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 25 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"A true master of his craft, Tom Hanks has given life to some of the most compelling, beloved, and iconic characters on the screen," Harvard president Larry Bacow said in a statement. "Over five decades, he has entertained, enlightened, and befriended us. He has made us laugh, cry, question, and think."

"In addition to his brilliance as an actor, Tom has demonstrated both an innate empathy and a deep understanding of the human condition," Bacow continued in the statement. "He has contributed to our national culture and expanded our ability to appreciate stories and histories that have been previously unexamined. I very much look forward to his address in May."

Hanks, who himself studied theater at Chabot College and later graduated from California State University in Sacramento, Calif., will be awarded an honorary degree as part of his appearance at Harvard's graduation this year, according to a Harvard press release.

Tom Hanks attends the photocall for "Elvis" during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 26, 2022 in Cannes, France.
Tom Hanks. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Recent Harvard commencement speakers have included former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden, late U.S. politician and legislator John Lewis, Prarie View A&M University president Ruth Simmons and filmmaker Steven Spielberg, whom Hanks has collaborated with on a number of movies, including Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Bridge of Spies (2015).

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Hanks, who recently collected two golden raspberry trophies when the 2023 Razzies named his appearance in Elvis among the worst in movies of the last year, said during a January appearance on the The Great Creators with Guy Raz that he has experienced "self-doubt that is pure neurosis" over the course of his career as he explained that he does not like to watch some of his own movies.

"I wrestle with authenticity," the Man Called Otto actor explained. "I wrestle with the difference between lying for a living as an actor and lying to myself as a human being."

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Hanks went on to say shortly after that he doesn't watch some of his own films, including his "big hits," because he sees "the falsehood in them. I see the loss. I see that one time, 'Oh, man, I missed that opportunity.' "

"And it's not because, at the moment, I chose not to — it's because, after it was done, I realized I didn't go far enough. I didn't go to the place that I could have gone," he said.

Hanks is next scheduled to appear in Wes Anderson's upcoming film Asteroid City.

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