Chet Hanks Says It Was 'a Double-Edged Sword' Growing Up as Tom Hanks' Son
By Paige Gawley
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Growing up with famous parents had its ups and downs for Chet Hanks. In a new YouTube video, the 31-year-old son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson gets really up about the good and bad parts of his childhood in the spotlight.
"There are a lot of advantages, but sometimes it can be pretty weird," he admitted. "Everyone knows the advantages. They're self-explanatory. I'm very blessed. I got to do a lot of cool s**t that a lot of people don't get the opportunity to do. I got to travel the world, stay in nice hotels, fly in private planes."
"I'm very blessed for that. I wouldn't change my situation for anything," Chet continued. "I love my parents. I wouldn't want any different parents, and I wouldn't want any different life, so I'm very grateful and blessed for all of that."
Despite Chet's gratitude for his privileged upbringing, all of that came at a cost.
"The truth is, it is a double-edged sword. It's a lot more complicated, and not so many people understand it," he explained. "You've got to keep in mind that fame is the most powerful drug known to man. It can also be the most destructive. People are infatuated with fame... It creates a lot of jealously, a lot of envy."
Chet's experience "was even more complicated," he said, because he wasn't famous in his own right, but because of his parents.
"On top of fame already being toxic, I wasn't even famous, I was just the son of somebody famous, so I hadn't even done anything to deserve any sort of recognition," he said. "That created a lot of contempt, a lot contempt for me. My dad is beloved, he's on this pedestal, but for me, it created a lot of contempt."
Because of who his parents are, Chet said, "People automatically assumed in general that I would just be a really arrogant, entitled, spoiled brat, even though I really wasn't."
"My parents didn't spoil me, I was never given money or an allowance, I had to work and earn everything that I've made. It's been that way for my entire life," Chet said. "Growing up, if I needed money to go out and have fun with my friends, my dad would be like, 'OK, you want some money? Go wash my car. I'll give you 60 bucks.' Everything was earned and I'm grateful for that."
Though Chet didn't consider himself spoiled, those "preconceived notions" people had about him followed him into high school, college and beyond.
"People would make up their minds about me before they even got a chance to know me and it was extremely hard to break down their walls," he said, "so I encountered a lot of disdain, a lot of animosity, a lot of negativity, because everybody was just prepared to hate my guts."
In turn, Chet developed "a chip on my shoulder" and began to "walk around with a lot of anger."
"It led me to create this hard exterior so that people wouldn't f**k with me, because people did f**k with me a lot growing up. It was never to my face, it was always behind my back," he said. "... I just was always extremely distrustful of people and defensive, and that developed into hostility."
"That defensive attitude, that chip on my shoulder, that posturing, led me down the wrong path, because I felt that I had something to prove," Chet added. "... It just led me down a path of self-destruction through my 20s."
In addition to feeling anger about people's preconceived notions, Chet felt "ashamed" by the privilege he experienced throughout his life.
"When people made me feel worthless, like I didn't deserve to be who I was, to have any recognition, that I was just some brat, I believed them and I internalized it. I did feel worthless. I did feel like I didn't deserve to be in my position. I didn't feel like I would ever amount to anything," he said. "... I was insecure about my upbringing. I was insecure about the fact that I did grow up privileged."
Now, though, Chet is "starting to truly feel that I don't have anything to prove to anyone."
"All in all, I'm really happy and I'm very blessed. I learned a lot about myself. I wouldn't change my predicament for anything," he said. "... Today I'm grateful, I've changed my life, I've no longer gone down that self-destructive road, dealing with my anger and resentment by self-destructing, by pleasure-seeking, through partying, drugs, alcohol, substances, everything. Now I'm just focusing on doing the work and being the best me I can be."