Born Nov. 24, 1977 in Sacramento, CA, Colin Lewes Dillingham was the son of Samantha Lewes (Susan Jane Dillingham) and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks. His name was changed to Hanks after his parents married in 1978, and with his strong physical resemblance to his father, Hanks quickly found there was no escaping the inherent benefits - and limitations - in pursuing acting while having a Hollywood A-lister as a parent. Although his parents divorced in 1987, he served as a production assistant on the Tom Hanks astronaut drama "Apollo 13" (1995), and made his screen debut in his father's directorial debut, "That Thing You Do!" (1996), playing a studio page in the 1960s-era story of at a one-hit wonder rock band.
His first professional steps out from under his father's shadow came with the regular role of Alex Whitman on the aliens-in-high-school hit "Roswell," a unique hybrid of teen romantic drama and science fiction. As Alex, Hanks played one of three teen humans in on the secret that a trio of their classmates and longtime neighbors were survivors of the famed 1947 UFO crash. His unrequited love for alien Isabel (Katherine Heigl) provided a palpable spark for audiences, and his surprising death angered many fans. Benefiting from the teenquake that shook Hollywood at the time, Hanks found himself transitioning to movies, cast as the good-hearted second (or third) banana in youth-oriented films, playing levelheaded geeks in the disappointments Whatever It Takes (2000) with James Franco and Get Over It (2001) with Kirsten Dunst. A supporting role in his father's groundbreaking miniseries "Band of Brothers" (HBO, 2001) returned his career to firmer ground, although the young actor had to deal with his mother's 2002 death from bone cancer.
Hanks toplined the modest comedy hit Orange County (2002), playing a Californian high school student forced to take an impromptu road trip to ensure his acceptance into college, complicated by a cast of wacky characters. Jack Black stole the movie - and critics' attention - with his delightfully bizarre antics as Hanks' drugged-out but ultimately loving brother, but the film drew negative attention for a unique distinction. Starring Colin Hanks (son of Tom) and Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek) and directed by Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence) - all relatively untested - many reviewers pointed to it as a blatant example of Hollywood nepotism.
Ever mindful of this charge - which was part of his unique birthright - Hanks took a small role in the gritty indie 11:14 (), a series of downbeat, violence-laced interconnected stories. He charmed with a goofy guest spot on cultural flashpoint "The O.C." (FOX, 2003-07), playing an actor on a meta-soap called "The Valley" who bore many similarities to the show's dorky-cute heartthrob Seth (Adam Brody). Hanks reunited with Jack Black in Peter Jackson's ambitious King Kong (2005), playing members of a film crew intent on capturing footage of Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) interacting with the mysterious and exotic wildlife of Skull Island. On TV, Hanks guest-starred on "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-2010) as a revenge-seeking math rival of Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz), and reprised the role again in 2008. He took an unusual dark role as an obsessive cyberstalker preying on innocent women in the thriller Alone with Her (2007) and filmed a fun cameo as "Drunk Frat Dude" in pal Jack Black's "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny" (2006).
After headlining the strange severed-finger mystery/comedy Careless (), Hanks starred alongside Emily Blunt and John Malkovich in The Great Buck Howard (2009). In the film, he played an assistant to an aging, out-of-date illusionist (Malkovich), and found himself fielding questions again about his own father, who produced the movie and popped up in a cameo as his onscreen dad. The young actor appeared on Broadway in the play "33 Variations" opposite Jane Fonda and Malkovich, and then was able to provide the comic relief - and a little gravitas - as the snarky sidekick to Diane Lane in the FBI vs. the Internet thriller, "Untraceable," a minor hit in 2008. Hanks continued his trend of playing tech-savvy characters, essaying the lead role of an FBI agent who faces intrigue and his mother's sex life in the comic action movie My Mom's New Boyfriend (), which went direct-to-DVD in the U.S. despite the presence of Meg Ryan and Antonio Banderas.
Hanks found success again in the Anna Faris comedy smash The House Bunny (2008), where he played the patient, kind-hearted director of a nursing home who falls for Faris, a Playboy Bunny-turned-sorority housemother. As the straight man to the goofy comic, Hanks played to his strengths. Besides a small role as a speechwriter in Oliver Stone's controversial biopic of former president, George W. Bush, W. (2008), Hanks also made the most of his babyfaced good looks by recurring briefly on the 1960s-set success, "Mad Men" (AMC, 2007- ). On the show, he played a priest, Father Gill, who asked Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) for public speaking tips before discovering her secrets.
In real life, Hanks - who had previously dated actresses Rachael Leigh Cook and Busy Phillips - married publicist Samantha Bryant on May 8, 2010. The young actor stepped out on his own even further as an adult by co-starring with a mustachioed Bradley Whitford on the tongue-in-cheek cop comedy "The Good Guys" (FOX, 2010- ). While Whitford had the showier part as a washed-up detective stuck in a personal time warp, Hanks held his own as the grammar-correcting, rules-obsessed straight man. The actor also seemed to be at peace with his parentage, telling a writer that his dad had " been on top of Everest now for a long time. I may be at the lower base camp of Machu Picchu. We might be both climbing mountains, but they are very different peaks."
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