Fact Check

Tom Hanks Said He Had 'No Respect' for People Who Wouldn't Wear Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

"If you can't wear a mask and wash your hands and social distance, I've got no respect for you man," Hanks was purported to have once said.

Published Sept. 20, 2023

Tom Hanks departs the "Asteroid City" red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images) (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Image Via Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Claim:
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks once said during a July 2020 interview, "If you can't wear a mask and wash your hands and social distance, I don't understand. I've got no respect for you man."

On Sept. 19, 2023, users on X (formerly Twitter) virally shared an old video clip claiming it showed Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks saying he had "no respect" for people who wouldn't wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most popular post from Sept. 19 earned millions of impressions. The video upload in the post was attributed to a January 2023 post made by the account @healthbyjames, which showed the display name of "James Cintolo, RN FN CPT." (We previously reported about how Cintolo's account had been known to spread false information about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.)

Several other accounts also shared the quote from Hanks, either with or without the video, with their new posts receiving hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of engagements.

It was true that Hanks once said he had "no respect" for people who refused to wear masks and follow other guidelines to protect people from spreading COVID-19.

The video was originally captured on July 6, 2020, just weeks following the news that Hanks and his wife, actor Rita Wilson, had tested positive for, and then recovered from, a coronavirus infection.

Hanks' answer came from an interview with The Associated Press that was about his new film, "Greyhound," according to BBC.com.

In the video, Hanks had said the following about prevention and protection in regard to coronavirus infection:

I don't get it. I simply do not get it. It is literally the least you can do. And if you want to... if anybody wants to build up an argument about doing the least they can do, I wouldn't trust them with a driver's license. I mean, when you drive a car, you've got to obey speed limits. You've got to use your turn signal. You've got to avoid hitting pedestrians. If you can't do those three things, then I get it. You shouldn't be driving a car. If you can't wear a mask and wash your hands and social distance, I don't understand. I've got no respect for you man. I don't buy your argument.

As of September 2023, guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that staying up-to-date on vaccines and wearing masks "can help prevent severe illness and reduce the potential for strain on the healthcare system." The World Health Organization (WHO) also published similar information, saying that masks help to "suppress transmission and save lives."

In May 2022, the WHO reported that "new estimates" showed that "the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic (described as 'excess mortality') between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million)."

For further reading, we previously published a story about a false rumor that said entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey had revealed that Hanks had a "shady role" in starting the August 2023 Maui wildfires.

Sources

"14.9 Million Excess Deaths Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 and 2021." World Health Organization (WHO), 5 May 2022, https://www.who.int/news/item/05-05-2022-14.9-million-excess-deaths-were-associated-with-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-2020-and-2021.

@APEntertainment. ".@tomhanks Says He Has 'No Respect' for Those Who Choose to Not Wear a Mask: 'It Is Literally the Least You Can Do.'" X (Formerly Twitter), July 6, 2020, https://twitter.com/APEntertainment/status/1280261610058272769.

"Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: When and How to Use Masks." World Health Organization (WHO), https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks.

"Coronavirus: Tom Hanks 'has No Respect' for People Not Wearing Masks." BBC News, July 7, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53318653.

Liles, Jordan. "COVID Survivor Claire Bridges Sets Record Straight on Misleading Tweet About Her." Snopes, Jan. 24, 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/01/24/claire-bridges-covid/.

---. "Tom Hanks 'Panics' as Oprah Winfrey Reveals His 'Shady Role' in Maui Fires?" Snopes, Sept. 1, 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/hanks-oprah-maui-fires/.

"Use and Care of Masks." U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.