After having fully recovered from COVID-19, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks befriended a bullied 8-year-old boy. The reason? The child has a surprisingly similar name to the virus that Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, contracted last month.
Corona DeVries, from Queensland, Australia, wrote a letter to the celebrity couple after learning they had tested positive for COVID-19 in March. “I heard you and your wife have caught the coronavirus,” Devries wrote, “are you ok?”
All the while, DeVries has endured bullying at school for sharing the name of the virus behind the current global pandemic. DeVries said in a segment with Australian news channel 9News that his classmates kept calling him “coronavirus” and made fun of him for his name.
“I get really mad,” DeVries told 9News when asked how he felt about the bullying.
Hanks encouraged DeVries to be proud of his unique name. “You know, you are the only person I’ve ever known to have the name Corona,” he wrote, “like the ring around the sun, a crown.”
While many know Hanks for his roles in Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Captain Phillips, DeVries knew him as the voice of Woody from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. In the postscript of his correspondence to DeVries, Hanks even made a reference to the animated movie’s iconic ending credits song, writing, “You got a friend in me!”
On top of thanking DeVries for “being such a good friend,” Hanks sent the boy something he thought he would appreciate. “I thought this typewriter would suit you,” the actor wrote in the letter that came with the vintage Corona typewriter he gifted to DeVries. It also happened to be the same typewriter Hanks brought to Australia, where he self-quarantined with Wilson after testing positive for the coronavirus. “Ask a grown up how it works. And use it to write my back,” he added.
DeVries was thrilled to hear back from his new famous friend and told 9News that he feels “very special.”