Tom Hanks led the romantic comedy genre in the ’90s with Meg Ryan, but his wife, Rita Wilson, revealed that he actually turned down the lead role in another classic.
During a recent episode of the Table for two with Bruce Bozzi podcastthe actress-producer said Hanks was asked to play the lead role in 1989 When Harry met Sally…but declined the role.
“People probably don’t know this, but Tom was offered When Harry met Sally…, and he turned it down because he was getting a divorce and he was very glad he wasn’t married,” Wilson said. “And so he couldn’t understand that a person going through a divorce would have anything other than just, ‘I’m so happy.'”
The Forest Gump actor later starred opposite Ryan in 1993 Sleepless in Seattle and that of 1998 You’ve got mail. And Billy Crystal ended up playing Harry Burns in the movie directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron.
For When Harry met Sally… was released, Hanks and Samantha Lewes were divorced in 1987. The actor then married Wilson in 1988.
During her podcast appearance, Wilson also talked about how she landed the role of Suzy in Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle. After Hanks accepted the role, the actress said she “loved that script so much” when she read it.
Wilson also noted that she liked the way Ephron wrote for Carrie Fisher When Harry met Sally… And This is my life. When she finally ran into Ephron at a party, she asked the filmmaker if she could audition for the role of the best friend (Becky) if she didn’t cast Fisher.
The actress said she auditioned but “didn’t get the part. They gave it to Rosie (O’Donnell). But Nora offered me the role of Suzy, that other character. And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that was a really good part of the script. I really like that character. There was a great monologue in it.’”
Wilson added that the role ended up being “one of the most fun, beautiful acting experiences I’ve ever had”.