Why Michelle Obama's Italy Trip With Tom Hanks Had The Internet Up In Arms

Michelle Obama hanging out with celebrities should not be shocking news, but she caused quite a stir when she rubbed elbows with Hollywood A-listers while on a European vacation. In September 2023, the paparazzi snapped photos of the former first lady on a yacht off the coast in Italy with Tom Hanks. The "Forrest Gump" star was also joined by his wife Rita Wilson along with Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw. What made the excursion notable was that Barack Obama was not aboard the ship, or even in the country. At one point on the yacht, Hanks ditched his top and went shirtless, while Michelle sported a white one-piece. Michelle seemed to be enjoying the getaway, as she was also photographed snorkeling. Some were convinced however that the Italian vacation was a red flag in Michelle and Barack Obama's marriage.

As photos of the former FLOTUS in Italy with Hanks made the rounds (above), several people could not get over the fact that her husband stayed stateside. "More importantly, why is Michelle Obama vacationing in Europe with Tom Hanks and a bunch of celebrities for months without Barack?" one X, formerly Twitter, user wrote. Days after the yacht pics were published, the Obamas celebrated their wedding anniversary, but some worried there may have been trouble in paradise. "Barack and Michelle haven't been seen together in quite some time," an X user wrote while quote-tweeting Barack's anniversary tweet.

It appeared those causing a stir did not know the truth about Tom Hanks' friendship with Barack Obama.

Tom Hanks had vacationed with the Obamas in the past

There may have been some sordid speculation about Michelle Obama spending time in Italy with Tom Hanks, but the truth of the matter was the "Captain Phillips" star is friends with both her and Barack Obama. A few months before the yacht excursion, Michelle and Barack had dinner with Hanks and Rita Wilson in Greece, per the Daily Mail. The former POTUS and first lady also brought their two daughters.

In fact, the Obamas have a history of hanging out on yachts with "The Green Mile" actor. They were photographed spending time on a 450-foot yacht together in Tahiti in April 2017. Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen were also along for the ride. Afterwards, the talk show magnate was tight-lipped about their vacation. "What happens on the boat, stays on the boat," Winfrey jokingly told People at the time.

The same month that photos of the star-studded yacht voyage leaked, Hanks offered up some details about his time with Michelle and Barack. "Look, imagine what it could've been like it, triple it. It was off the scale, fantastic," Hanks playfully said while speaking about the Polynesian getaway on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in April 2017. Similar to Winfrey, the actor joked that his time with the presidential couple was a private matter. "I'd like to share a ton of stories from it, but they're classified," Hanks said. Besides vacationing together, Hanks and the Obamas had a long history of meeting up at professional and personal events.

Tom Hanks gave and received awards with the Obamas

When Barack Obama held his 50th birthday in August 2011, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were invited. The guestlist was around 200 people, and the party was held at the Rose Garden in the White House. A decade later, the "Philadelphia" actor had stayed in touch with the Obamas as Hanks was also present for Barack's 60th birthday party, which sparked some outrage. It was a more intimate gathering as the former president and Michelle Obama had "scaled back" the invite list since it took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, per the New York Post.

Not only was Hanks close enough with the Obamas to earn birthday party invite, and go on European vacations together, he also participated in formal affairs with the presidential couple. In October 2019, Michelle was given an award created by the "Saving Private Ryan" star — the Hanks Caregiver Champion award, which is presented to people who offered extraordinary service to military caregivers. The former FLOTUS gave a moving speech. "You all changed me forever," Michelle said, per People. "You have changed the way I see service, you've changed the way I see war, you've changed the way I see this entire country."

Five years earlier, it was Hanks who was on the receiving end of an award presented by Barack. The then-president presented Hanks with the Kennedy Center honors. "Because no matter what party you belong to, everybody wants a selfie with Tom Hanks," host Stephen Colbert joked during the event, per the BBC.