Tom Hanks surprised graduating students with an inspirational message.

The 63-year-old actor taped a virtual message of support for the students of Ohio's Wright State University, who were unable to stage a physical graduation ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic, and hailed the group as the ''chosen ones''.

He said in the video, which was posted to the institute's social media pages shortly before the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures held their virtual ceremony: ''Congratulations to you chosen ones... You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures.

''You started in the olden times, in a world back before the Great Pandemic of 2020.

''You will talk of those earlier years in your lives in just that way: 'Well, that was back before the COVID-19. That was before the great pandemic.' Part of your lives will forever be identified as 'before,' in the same way other generations tell time like, 'Well, that was before the war,' or 'That was before the internet,' or 'That was before Beyoncé.' The word 'before' is going to carry great weight with you.''

Tom - who, along with his wife Rita Wilson, contracted the virus in March - explained the graduates are entering post-college life ''during the great reset, or the great re-boot'' of society and will be there to define the ''new'' world.

He continued: ''Sometime, if we all remain good Americans, you will continue on into the 'after.'

''As in 'That was after the virus was tamed,' 'After we were safe to go out again,' 'After we took up our probable lives once more.'

''You will be enlightened in ways your degree from Wright State never held in promise. ''You will have made it through a time of great sacrifice and great need and no one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our measure of normalcy than you, you chosen ones.

''You chosen ones are going to form the new structures, and define the new realities and make the new world.

''The world after all that we have been through... the future is always uncertain, but we who celebrate what you have done, we are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down. Thank you, congratulations, way to go!''