In the past few months, more and more people have discovered Tom Hanks’ son. No, we’re not talking about Colin Hanks, who followed in his father’s footsteps as an actor.
Instead, we’re talking about Chet Hanks, 30, son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Sure, Chet has tried his hand at acting, but he is mostly known for his aspirations to be a rap star. And to try to promote his career, he often makes controversial statements online.
Most recently, Chet turned heads when he declared on Instagram in March that this upcoming summer would be a “white boy summer.”
“I just got this feeling, man, that this summer… it’s about to be a white boy summer,” Hanks said in the video, seeming to make a play on Megan Thee Stallion’s 2019 hit “Hot Girl Summer.”
“Take it how you want. I’m not talking about Trump, NASCAR-type white. I’m talking about me, Jon B., Jack Harlow-type white boys, you know what I mean? Let me know if you guys can vibe with that, and get ready. ‘Cause I am.”
While some tried to parse what on Earth this meant, others had a more basic question. Just who the heck is Chet Hanks?
Here is everything you need to know about Chet Hanks and his problematic journey to internet fame.
Living in his father’s shadow
It’s easy to sit back and judge Chet Hanks and his many, many mistakes. But one of the things driving these mistakes is simple. He is constantly struggling with living in his famous father’s shadow.
In a 2012 interview with New York Magazine, Chet explained how he might never be able to win over a typical “hater.” As he put it, “Let’s say hypothetically that I came up with the cure for cancer. Here’s what it would say in my obituary: ‘Chet Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, came up with the cure for cancer.’”
Many children of famous celebrities would say the same thing. And in Chet’s case, it doesn’t help that he is so different from Tom Hank’s other children.
Different from Tom Hanks’ other children
Throughout all of Chet Hank’s weird scandals, his father Tom Hanks hasn’t offered much commentary. But in a 2019 interview with The New York Times, he mentioned something which may give fans some real insight into Chet’s life and decisions.
According to Tom Hanks, “My son Colin was born when I was very young. As well as my daughter [Elizabeth], but that means we have this gestalt understanding because they remember when their dad was just a guy trying to, you know, make the rent. My other kids, they were born after I had established a beachhead in every way. And so their lives were just different.”
In other words, Colin Hanks, born in 1977 out of Tom’s first marriage to Samantha Lewes, remembers what it was like for his dad to struggle to pay the bills. Chet Hanks, born in 1990 out of Tom’s second marriage to Rita Wilson, grew up with his dad as a firmly-established mega-celebrity. This allowed Chet to live like a rock star.
Like all rock stars, though, he soon got into some major trouble.
Mental health and substance abuse struggles
Chet Hanks has discussed struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues since he was a teenager.
As a teen, his issues often manifested in disruptive and destructive behavior. Because of that, his parents forced him into a “scared straight” program in the wilderness to help get his life back in order, he revealed on The Red Pill Podcast with Van Lathan.
But reportedly his parents’ attempts to get him off drugs went even further than that. According to a friend of Chet’s speaking to the National Enquirer in 2015, Chet started out abusing alcohol and marijuana before moving on to harder drugs. His friend claims Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson sent Chet on a tour of a maximum security prison while he was in high school in their attempt to scare their son straight.
“They told Chet, ‘This is where you’re ending up!’ But Chet didn’t take the jail visit seriously: he just kept getting high!” the source said.
It would take a big change in his personal life to finally inspire Chet to get clean.
RELATED: Celebrities With Mental Illness
Getting sober for his daughter
After a long battle and much support from his famous parents, Chet reported in 2018 that he was now clean and sober.
It was the birth of his daughter Michaiah Hanks in April 2016 (whom Chet shares with ex-girlfriend Tiffany Miles) that provided Chet with the push to get clean. And he thinks it is important to talk about his struggles and his journey.
In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, he said, “If you just get sober and try to keep it a secret, you’re not really helping anybody because there could be somebody that’s struggling really hard and if you can be an inspiration to that person to make the change for them to change their life, you can’t put a price on that.”
In retrospect, Chet has also admitted that drugs were behind some of his stranger actions and controversies. The biggest example of this is the series of Instagram videos he posted in 2015 where he defended his choice to say the N-word, saying, “It’s a word that can be used out of camaraderie and love, not just exclusively for black people.”
In 2018, he apologized for his controversial comments on The Red Pill Podcast with Van Lathan and blamed them on his substance abuse issues. “I was on a lot of drugs… I wanted to be, like, down, you know what I mean?” he said. “I just felt like I wasn’t enough. Low-key, like subconsciously, looking back on it now I realize I was trolling. I thought, like, crazy antics and just wilding the f*ck out and doing some crazy sh*t was going to, like, spark my career.”
It is only recently that many people have discovered Tom Hanks has a son who wants to be a rapper. However, Chet’s rap aspirations go all the way back to when he was a student at Northwestern University in 2011.
While there, Chet wrote and performed a parody of Wiz Khalifa’s song “Black and Yellow” called “White and Purple,” under his rap moniker Chet Haze.
This was a brief viral sensation and put Chet under a lot of scrutiny. Fellow students and national journalists explored everything from Chet getting preferential treatment at the university to him allegedly ripping off the idea for the parody song from a fellow student.
For better or for worse, though, Chet’s path was set. And being a rap star quickly went from being a fun college joke to being his lifelong ambition.
However, in the years since, Chet has found himself in some serious legal trouble and part of some disturbing allegations.
Domestic violence allegations
On April 13, 2021, Chet Hanks unleashed his NSFW “White Boy Summer” music video onto the world. It involved some cringe-inducing rhymes, images of women twerking on his head, and the return of Chet’s inexplicable Jamaican accent (more on this later).
But some think the timing of this video was meant to distract from his legal troubles.
Right before Chet released the video, on the same day his ex-girlfriend Kiana Parker held an absolutely scathing press conference in Richmond, Texas alleging domestic violence and abuse.
As OK! Magazine reports, Parker claimed that Chet “told me he would ‘blow my brains out’ and that he ‘didn’t want to live and would blow his brains out’ as well.”
As for Chet, he had filed his own lawsuit against Parker a month earlier for assault, battery, theft. And a fairly graphic video published by TMZ shows Parker attacking Chet, leaving him with a bloody face.
But despite the serious allegations on both sides, this is not the most famous controversy Chet has found himself part of.
Jamaican accent controversy
Chet long ago sought to escape his father’s shadow. However, he has arguably done so in the worst possible way.
For example, after he got clean and sober, Chet discovered mild success as an actor. He appeared on shows like Empire, Shameless, and Your Honor. It looked like he was on his way to becoming a respected actor like his father.
Fast forward to the January 2020 Golden Globes ceremony. There, Tom Hanks received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifetime achievements in acting. Chet was there to discuss his dad’s award, and he made the bizarre decision to speak in a fake Jamaican accent on the red carpet.
He even shared this strange moment to his social media, and faced a ton of criticism as he went viral. Doing so effectively erased any chance of him being taken seriously as an entertainer. To make matters worse, his music video for “White Boy Summer” brings back his Jamaican accent and even a Jamaican flag.
Chet Hanks has tried his hand at rapping and acting. Now, he has become a walking, talking internet meme.
But with all of his antics, he probably no longer has to worry about just being remembered as Tom Hanks’ son.