Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Are the Couple We All Hope to Be
It’s difficult to make blanket statements about why one couple works better together than another couple. Clearly every relationship is its own unique animal, and sometimes, it all just comes together in serendipitous love. That would be the case for longtime love birds Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. To borrow from one of Hanks’ greatest roles, they are just "like peas and carrots."
If you’ve ever wondered if true love can exist in Hollywood, look no further than these two. As their union enters its fourth decade, Hanks and Wilson are just as smitten as ever. They both have wonderful things to say about each other, although Hanks seems to provide the bulk of the quotes about their relationship — and boy does he say nice things. They actively root for each other’s success and do everything they can to support one another. We couldn’t find a single hiccup in their 31-year marriage, which is both a testament to their bond and their ability to keep their private lives private.
What we did find were a whole lot of “aww” and “gee” moments that give us all something to admire and aspire after in our own relationships.
1972: Schoolboy Crush
This famous couple’s love story actually took awhile to develop if you look at the very beginning. At the premiere of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” which the couple co-produced, Hanks told reporters that he first started to fall for Wilson in 1972 when he saw her play a cheerleader on an episode of “The Brady Bunch.” “I was actually at a friend of mine’s house when it aired, and I remember thinking, ‘That girl’s cute,’” Hanks said.
Part of us thinks he said this for the benefit of Wilson, who was standing next to him at the time; after all, being adorable is one of Hanks’ strong suits. But maybe it’s true.
1981: Performing Together on Screen
Hanks and Wilson first met in person, however, in 1981 on the set of the TV show “Bosom Buddies,” which was Hanks’ first big break. Wilson was only in one episode of the short-lived sitcom, and then four years later, they headlined the movie “Volunteers” playing love interests.
That love, however, didn’t blossom in real life still until a few years later.
1988: Romance on a Manhattan Sidewalk
Midtown Manhattan isn’t exactly at the top of the list for places to profess your deepest feelings for someone, unless of course you’re Tom Hanks. In a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, Wilson shared a story about something her husband said to her before they got married in 1988.
“I’ll never forget, we were standing on the corner of 57th and 5th in New York, or 58th and 5th. We were holding hands, and we were waiting for the traffic light to change. And he looked at me and he said, ‘You know, I just want you to know, that you never have to change anything about who you are in order to be with me,” Wilson said. “Literally, a wave of — if love is a feeling, or a cellular thing that happens to your body, it went through me, and that’s pretty much who he is, and how he’s been.”
1988: A Legendary Romance Is Born
Not soon after that Manhattan sidewalk declaration of love, the couple wed in 1988. It was her first marriage and his second. The year before, Hanks had divorced from his college sweetheart, actress Samantha Lewes, although he has said their relationship was in shambles long before that. He had been “looking for something I had not found as a kid,” he told the Express, having come from a divorced household with parents who each remarried multiple times.
“And a broken marriage meant I was sentencing my own kids to the sort of feelings I had at their age,” he told the U.K. paper. “I was just too young and insecure for marriage … I was not really ready to take on those responsibilities.”
By the time he married Wilson, he was definitely ready for lifelong commitment. Hanks brought two young children into his new marriage, Colin and Elizabeth Ann, and then had two more children, Chester and Truman, with Wilson.
1990: More Screen Time Together
After getting married, the two continued to perform together and have done so throughout their marriage. Their first appearance on film as a married couple was the 1990s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” in which Hanks starred and Wilson had a small part. They were again reunited, as friends, in the hit “Sleepless in Seattle” in 1993.
And then Wilson and Colin Hanks, Tom Hanks’ first son from his prior marriage, both had cameos in Tom’s directorial debut of “That Thing You Do” in 1996. Wilson also had a small part in 2011’s “Larry Crowne,” which Hanks starred in, produced, directed and co-wrote.
1994: They Know What Love Is
While they do occasionally work together, the two also have very independent careers. Case in point: In 1994, Hanks won the Oscar for his portrayal of a gay attorney with AIDS in “Philadelphia.” He also gave a rousing, emotional speech, thanking many people for helping him get to that very moment. As you might have guessed, Wilson was indeed among those Hanks honored.
“Here’s what I know,” Hanks opened with. “I could not be standing here without that undying love that was just sung about by, not Bruce [Springsteen], but Neil Young. And I have that in a lover that is so close to fine, we should all be able to experience such heaven right here on Earth.”
1995: Tom Hankies
In “Forrest Gump,” one of the central themes is unconditional love and one of the great conflicts is Jenny’s inability to understand Forrest’s feelings for her until the very end of her life. When Forrest asks her to marry him, all she can say is that, essentially, he’s wrong about her and doesn’t really want to be her husband. His response is one of the film’s most memorable lines: “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.”
Hanks spun this out beautifully in another genuinely emotional Oscar acceptance speech for the role, only he was talking about his real wife: “I am standing here because the woman I share my life with has taught me and demonstrates for me every day just what love is.”
Unlike his acceptance speech the year before, Hanks could not hold back his tears — or maybe he’s just secure enough to let them fly — and that earned him the nickname Tom Hankies.
2001: Wiser and More Mature
Years after his back-to-back Oscars, Hanks sat down with Oprah in 2001 for a sprawling interview about acting, life and, of course, his wife. He admitted that his relationship with Wilson might not have worked had they married when they were younger.
“The success of our relationship was a matter of timing, maturity and our willingness to have an intimate connection,” Hanks told Oprah. “When I married Rita, I thought, ‘This is going to require some change on my part.’ I won’t deny that providence was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn’t magic — the way it’s shown in movies. In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here. Not that marriage doesn’t come close to being hell in a handbasket sometimes. But we both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other — and we’ll get through it.”
2013: His Big Fat Greek In-Laws
On multiple occasions Hanks has talked about how much he loves his in-laws, even describing his wife and her family as nothing like his own — which is positive in this case.
Hanks told Oprah that “I married into a classic old-world family structure in which people like to spend time with each other and construct their lives so they can. That hadn’t been part of my existence up until then. And you know what? In the 13 years Rita and I have been married, I’ve discovered there’s no substitute for that. There’s such an advantage to being involved in the day-to-day details of each other’s lives. It’s a marvelous fabric to exist in.”
In an interview with Piers Morgan in 2013, Hanks talked about Wilson’s generally high-spirited nature and how that comes, in part, from her “great Greek heritage, with a tightly knit family in which everybody gets to say any damn thing they want about the other person at the table.”
2015: Wilson Is a Cancer Survivor
Wilson went public in 2015 with the sobering news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She has been cancer-free since, and the ordeal inspired her to make her latest album, “Halfway to Home.”
On her Instagram page, Wilson shared a funny story about this scary and clearly not humorous time in her life. “Four years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had so many different thoughts. You’re scared, anxious, you think about your own mortality. So, I had a serious discussion with my husband that if anything happens, I wanted him to be super sad for a very long time, and I’d also like a party, a celebration.”
Her latest album was born out of that experience, including the aptly named single, “Throw Me a Party.”
2016: Privacy Matters
Hanks has said he and Wilson wanted their children to have as normal lives as possible, considering they had everything growing up and came from a famous family. The couple did a great job of keeping their kids out of the spotlight, so it’s no wonder a family trip to Disneyland made the evening news.
In her 2001 interview with Hanks, Oprah told the actor, “When I mentioned to a few people that I was going to interview you, they said, ‘What a decent guy!’ How close are you to that image?”
“Pretty close. I try not to lie to people — the only way to control the way you’re perceived is to tell the truth,” he responded. “No journalist has ever been in my house, and no photographs have ever been taken of where I live. I don't parade my family out for display, which is the way it will stay.”
But now that the kids are all grown up, the couple definitely shares family moments like watching sports together.
2018: Performing Together on Stage
It nearly happened and might again one day. Hanks and Wilson were set to star opposite each other in Shakespeare Center of LA’s staging of “Henry IV” in 2018, but a prior commitment Wilson made ended up getting in the way. Still, the couple very much want to add a stage production to their artistic collaborations.
Wilson is a longtime Shakespeare fan, according to Variety, and said that if she and Hanks do get a chance to act together in a play she would love it to be “The Taming of the Shrew” in which she plays the lead female role of Kate. Presumably Hanks would then play the lead male role of Petruchio, who courts Kate and her hefty dowry. Someone out there needs to make this happen!
2019: Knowing When a Good Thing is Real
As you know by now, Hanks loves to gush about his wife. She certainly returns the admiration, but he seems to dial it up a notch whenever possible. Case in point: the unveiling of her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Aside from all the wonderful things he said about Wilson, Hanks also told a funny story about how “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” went from a small theater production to one of the most financially successful films of all time (Wilson and Hanks produced the movie). The story goes that Wilson was reading the L.A. Times one morning and saw a miniscule ad for a one-woman show with a Greek theme and decided to go watch it. She came home raving about how good of a movie it would make and insisted that her husband go see it the very next day, which he did.
“The lesson here is that Rita Wilson knows what she is doing; her instincts are wicked sharp,” Hanks said.
Today: Socially Acceptable
Hanks has a bizarre social media presence, to say the least. He is most fond of posting pictures to his Instagram page of lost gloves he finds on his world travels or himself pretending to get into other people’s cars. Come to think of it, it’s what you’d expect from a zany 62-year-old grandpa. Wilson’s social channels are much more of what you’d expect from a celebrity, no matter their age, with many posts on her Twitter account that promote her work.
Both of them, however, dedicate some space to each other. Here’s Hanks sharing a cute photo of Wilson in an ancient-looking phone booth. He also shares all of her album releases. And here’s Wilson sharing on Valentine’s Day a great pic of the couple with that ever famous “Forrest Gump” quote. In this one, Hanks clearly photobombs a moment between Wilson and people even more famous than her husband.
‘We Like Being Together’
It seems Hanks is usually the one being quoted about his and Wilson’s bond, but she has plenty of lovely things to say about her husband. Wilson told Us Weekly that “we committed to each other, we love each other and we work hard at our relationship … Not only do we love each other, we really like each other, and we like being together, and we support each other and we keep the communication channels open. That’s always important.”
They even travel together when they’re working, as Wilson explained to E! News: “We have so much fun. Being on location is one of the greatest things. We’ve gone all over the world. We’ve taken our family. We’ve gotten to live in cities that you normally wouldn’t get to live in and become a normal person and [go] to the market and [find] your favorite coffee store and shop. Just pretending that you’re a local and that’s really great. You don’t feel rushed.”
Hanks also insisted on accompanying Wilson on her first musical tour, which required her to get a larger bed for the bus.
Where Does the Magic Come From?
We now know just how amazing of a couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are, and how their love is the real thing. So how do they do it? How do they maintain the passion?
“I view my wife as my lover, and we have a bond that goes beyond words like wife or girlfriend or mother,” Hanks told Oprah. “For example, I was able to construct a number of things in 'Philadelphia' because of my relationship with Rita. The way my character felt about his lover is the way I feel about mine. The same was true when I played Forrest Gump, who loved Jenny. Without my connection with Rita, I don't know how I would've been able to connect with what Forrest was going through."
Hanks also told Oprah he considers Wilson to be his best friend. “And it has been that way from the very beginning. We laugh just as much now at two in the morning as we always have. And we fight less and less.”