Fans at Villa Park, home of the mid-table Premier League side Aston Villa, were joined in the stands Saturday afternoon by the two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks as their team took on North London outfit Arsenal FC.
Cameras captured Hanks’ reactions as the afternoon game turned into a six-goal thriller.
The Forrest Gump star is the latest Hollywood star to pop up at an English soccer game in recent months. Earlier this week, Do The Right Thing filmmaker Spike Lee cheered on Arsenal against Premier League title favorites Manchester City.
Lee and Hanks could be described as historic Hollywood soccer fans. The two Oscar winners have been vocal about their love for the beautiful game in the past, with Hanks even donning the claret and blue of Aston Villa on the red carpet for the London premiere of Charlie Wilson’s War in 2008.
However, soccer fever appears to be spreading.
Elf and Anchorman star Will Ferrell was recently pictured alongside Premier League stars such as Jack Grealish and Mo Salah as he toured the UK, making appearances at soccer games in Manchester, Liverpool, and London. The Step Brothers actor, who is a co-owner of the MLS side LAFC, was also pictured sharing a drink with fans near Racecourse Ground, the home of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s national league side Wrexham AFC.
Reynolds and McElhenney’s purchase of the Welsh club is perhaps the largest Hollywood intervention in the sport to date.
The pair completed their takeover of Wrexham in February 2021, acquiring the club for $2.5 million. Since then, actor, producer, and director Michael B. Jordan has also thrown his hat into the game. The Creed star is now part owner of the English soccer team AFC Bournemouth. A December statement from the Premier League club announced that a deal had closed, finalizing its sale to a partnership led by American businessman Bill Foley and a minority ownership group led by Jordan.
AFC Bournemouth said Foley will assume the role of club Chairman with immediate effect, and he will work closely with Jordan and his business partner Nullah Sarker in areas including “global marketing and internationalization of the club.”
Jordan has made a handful of appearances at Bournemouth games, while Reynolds and McElhenney are regulars in the stands at Wrexham, which has undoubtedly increased the club’s profile.
In January, the team’s 3-3 draw against Sheffield United was televised on the BBC in the UK and ESPN in the US, which is rare for a soccer game that doesn’t feature popular Premier League teams like Chelsea or Manchester United. Sheffield United competes in the Championship, three leagues above Wrexham, who are in the semi-professional National League.
Wrexham went on to lose 3-1 in a replay against Sheffield United. There was also no happy ending for Hanks at Villa Park Saturday. After taking an early 1-0 lead against league leaders Arsenal, Aston Villa suffered a last-minute 4-2 defeat. The team is currently on a three-game losing streak.
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