Actor and musician Chester Hanks, better known as Chet and the son of Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, described his conversion from atheism after being touched by the hand of God.
Hanks, who has starred in recurring roles on TV shows such as “Empire,” made an appearance on the “IMPAULSIVE Clips” podcast, where he opened up about a time in his teens that his famous parents sent him away to a wilderness camp because of his bad behavior.
The 30-year-old said it was during that time in his young life that he realized God was real. At age 17, Hanks spent 12 weeks at a camp in a remote area of Utah. Filled with rage and far removed from civilization, the then-professing “atheist” said it was a “day hike” that changed his life.
"I went off and sat on the edge of this cliff and was just looking out at the view,” he said in the interview (which also includes some vulgar language).
“As I was looking out at that view and I was looking at where I had been from an elevated perspective — because I'd been stuck in this desert for 12 weeks and it just looked ugly and boring, and there's nothing to look at. But now I'm looking at it from an elevated perspective of the top of this mountain.”
Hanks revealed that he was so overcome by the beauty surrounding him, looking out 360 degrees as far the eye could see, and there was not a “speck of humanity” for miles.
"So I'm looking around, and I'm so overcome by emotion. It felt like I was touched by the hand of God. It was at that moment God revealed Himself to me,” he testified. “All that anger, and that hate, and that resentment flipped. It inverted to just infinite hope, gratitude, peace, love.”
“It just flipped on a dime, like that. And I was so overcome by emotion, I just sat at the edge of that cliff and I wept. I wept for an hour, uncontrollable weeping for like an hour. It did not cease, but tears of joy,” he added. “Tears of everything, feeling every emotion at once, all the pain and all the joy.”
Hanks has admitted he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction from the ages of 16 to 24. The podcast host asked him if the spiritual experience he encountered at that time was equivalent to feeling a high from drugs such as "psychedelics," but Hanks said it wasn't similar at all.
“Any experience I've had on psychedelics doesn't even come close to this,” he said. "It was at that moment, that was the birth of my spiritual life, that was when I was overcome. I knew, 'OK, no, there is something else out there. There is a higher power, there is a higher intelligence because it felt like it just tapped me on the shoulder.”
Although Hanks’ touch from God did not keep him from abusing drugs and alcohol until later in life, he finally sobered up at age 24, and pointed to God following his stint in rehab.
"If anybody that sees this struggles with addiction, feel free to reach out. Thank you all for the love and support! GOD IS REAL!!!" he wrote on Instagram in 2014.
It’s unclear what religious affiliation the young Hanks subscribes to, but he has a giant cross tattooed on his back. His famous dad has said in the past that he converted to the Greek Orthodox Church after marrying Wilson.