Ask most youngsters, and they'll tell you that figuring out what you want to be when you grow up is hard. But ask the son of two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks and actress Samantha Lewes, and he'll tell you that it's really hard.

"[My parents] were always supportive," 24-year-old Colin Hanks tells TV Guide Online. "They never said, 'Do [go into showbiz]' or, 'Don't do it.' They said, 'Whatever you want to do, go for it. And if you want to [perform] as a profession, you could cut it, but you've got to really want to.'"

In other words, Hanks's folks placed the burden of career planning squarely on his shoulders. "[They said], 'You've got to make the decision,'" he recalls, "which was the best thing they could have possibly done. And they saw every play I ever did, even when I wasn't living in Los Angeles."

The former Roswell regular finally settled upon a direction for his life through a process of elimination. "I came to a conclusion that I really, really enjoyed [acting], and it was the one thing that I was good at," he laughs. "I was a horrible student, and I was sick of the question, 'What's your major?'"

However, the former theater major was able to put his experience as an undeclared collegian to good use in his work on the new film Orange County (now playing) — though not in the way that you'd probably assume. Given his family's blessing to matriculate anywhere he liked, he briefly enrolled at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif. — the very county from which his feature character is desperately trying to escape.

"I didn't do the college thing right. I didn't know where I wanted to go, and I just sort of ended up picking a spot," he admits. "It's a great school, and I learned a lot there. But to be quite honest, I picked it because it had the nicest dorms.

"Not a good way," he concludes, "to pick where you're going to go to college!"