The Cast of 'Sleepless in Seattle,' Then and Now

8:30 AM 6/25/2018

by Lindsay Weinberg

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan first co-starred together in Nora Ephron's classic film, which was released in theaters 25 years ago.

sleepless in seattle - Photofest - H 2018
Courtesy of Photofest

Just one of the romantic comedy films starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle tells the story of Annie Reed, who hears widower Sam Baldwin speak about his heartbreak on the radio. She, along with hundreds of other hopeful women, writes him a letter about meeting in person. Annie begins corresponding with Sam’s young son, Jonah, who persuades his dad to meet Annie at the top of the Empire State Building in New York a la An Affair to Remember. Cue the music.

The film will always be cherished as a classic love story, though it came out 25 years ago, on June 25, 1993. Sleepless in Seattle remains one of late filmmaker Nora Ephron's greatest hits, along with When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail — all starring Ryan. It was Ephron's major directorial debut and has grossed more than $220 million worldwide. 

The stars have gone on to become A-list actors with creative works in film, television, theater and writing. Here’s what the stars of Sleepless in Seattle are doing today.

  • Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin

    Tom Hanks played Mr. Sleepless in Seattle himself, otherwise known as Sam Baldwin, before he landed his acclaimed role as Forrest Gump in 1994. He won the best actor Oscar in 1994 for Philadelphia and in 1995 for Forrest Gump. Hanks threw on his cowboy hat in 1994 to begin his 15-years-and-counting ride voicing Woody in the award-winning Toy Story franchise (Toy Story 4 is set to come out in 2019).

    Though his rom-com days appear to be behind him, Hanks has become a household name, portraying Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan, Thomas Schell in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, Captain Sully in Sully and more recently, journalist Ben Bradlee in best picture Oscar nominee The Post.

    Beyond acting, Hanks began producing in 1998. His roster includes My Big Fat Greek Wedding (he previously converted to the Greek Orthodox Church), Mamma Mia! and Where The Wild Things Are.

    In 2016, Hanks helped launch the Hidden Heroes campaign to provide resources to veterans. He also followed his love of writing by releasing a collection of short stories called Uncommon Type in 2014, and released an app called Hanx Writer to re-create the experience of typing on a typewriter.

  • Meg Ryan as Annie Reed

    In When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan played journalist Sally, who shares a car ride from Chicago to New York with an acquaintance named Harry. Four years later, Ryan embodied Annie Reed, another journalist who meets the love of her life in New York — this time at the Empire State Building for the film Sleepless in Seattle.

    Ryan continued to star in a variety of romantic films throughout her career, most notably in You’ve Got Mail, reuniting with her Sleepless co-star Tom Hanks for a love story set in — you guessed it — New York City. She voiced Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia for the 1997 Disney animated film and made a cameo on Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2009.

    The actress was set to voice future Sally, the character played by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), in the CBS spinoff of How I Met Your Mother. However, How I Met Your Dad never aired.

    Instead, Ryan made her directorial debut with Ithaca in 2015, using Ephron as her "quiet" and "intelligent" role model. And she’s slated to both produce and act in the television series Picture Paris in 2018.

    Ryan and actor Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow) divorced in 2001, and their son, Jack Quaid, acted in The Hunger Games in 2012.  

  • Ross Malinger as Jonah Baldwin

    Sleepless in Seattle was the ninth acting credit for child star Ross Malinger, who was just 8 years old when the film was released. He transitioned into television, acting as Michael DeRuzza in the TV series Good Advice about a marriage counselor, and as Will in The Simple Life about a rural community. Malinger voiced TJ in the cartoon Recess about childhood friends, but last appeared in an episode of Without a Trace in 2006.

    He reportedly worked as a manager of Automotive Legends until the store closed in 2009. Malinger, now 33, appears to have quit acting, despite being called “remarkable” by Rolling Stone and “one of the most appealing and real moppets” by Variety for his performance in Sleepless in Seattle.  


  • Bill Pullman as Walter

    Unfortunately for Walter, he gets the short end of the stick in this whole love affair. The character is engaged to Annie at the beginning of the film, but she begins to realize he’s a bit too uptight for her because she can’t handle his many allergies.

    Bill Pullman (Spaceballs) takes on the role. He’d had a small part alongside Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own and starred in Newsies with Christian Bale. Pullman took on playing President Thomas J. Whitmore in the acclaimed film Independence Day and Fred Madison in David Lynch’s Lost Highway.

    Pullman flexed his theater muscles by co-starring with Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You) in the Broadway play Oleanna. Moreover, he wrote the docudrama Expedition 6 about a space mission that leaves astronauts stranded after the Columbia Shuttle disaster.

    Most recently, however, Pullman performed as tennis champ Jack Kramer in Battle of the Sexes. Looking ahead, he'll star in The Coldest Game as well as join the star-studded cast of Backseat, which features Bale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams and Steve Carell.  

  • Rosie O'Donnell as Becky

    What romantic comedy would be complete without the confidante and best friend who mails your letter to your lover behind your back? Rosie O’Donnell plays Annie’s friend Becky, who does just that.

    The Long Island native began as a stand-up comic before hosting the five-time Daytime Emmy-winning Rosie O'Donnell Show from 1996-2002, which got her dubbed as “The Queen of Nice.” O’Donnell furthered her television personality with Rosie Live, The Rosie Show and The View, which she co-hosted from 2005-15 after Meredith Vieira left. She’s spoken out about many political topics from gun control to LGBTQ rights — and yes, she publicly feuded with President Donald Trump and even announced her willingness to portray Steve Bannon on SNL.

    Over the years, the comedian and actress lent her star power to a wide range of projects, including a video blog called Jahero, a magazine called Rosie's McCall's, two children’s books (which HBO turned into a special) and two memoirs. O'Donnell also has guest-starred on shows including Will & Grace, Empire, Mom and Smash. Now she’s working on Frankie Shaw’s television series SMILF, about a young struggling single mother.

  • Rita Wilson as Suzy

    Rita Wilson makes an appearance in Sleepless in Seattle as Suzy, Sam’s sister — funny considering she's been married to Tom Hanks since 1988. It was actually Wilson who originally introduced Hanks to Ephron's movies.

    On screen, Sam invites Suzy and her beau to dinner, and she gets emotional while explaining the movie reference of meeting at the Empire State Building from An Affair to Remember

    Wilson's acting career spans from M*A*S*H to The Good Wife to Girls. She was a leading force behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding as a producer and acted in the sequel. 

    On Broadway, Wilson performed in Chicago as Roxie Hart, a nightclub chorus girl turned murderer, in 2006. She released her debut solo album AM/FM in 2012; the soft rock album features country singers Faith Hill and Sheryl Crow. And she even returned to the stage after her 2015 breast cancer diagnosis, joining Larry David's Fish in the Dark on Broadway.

    Both Wilson and Hanks will perform in a Los Angeles production of William Shakespeare's Henry IV until July 1.

  • Victor Garber as Greg

    Victor Garber has embodied everyone from the hapless Titanic architect to the misogynistic law professor in Legally Blonde. His Sleepless in Seattle character is a bit more tame — Garber plays Sam’s brother-in-law, married to Suzy (Rita Wilson).

    Garber boasts more than 130 acting credits. On the silver screen, those include Argo and Milk, but his talent also lies in television and theater. In fact, Garber has six Emmy nominations, three of which are for the J.J. Abrams spy show Alias.

    He’s also collected four Tony nominations. The actor played Jesus in Toronto’s Godspell and in the original Broadway casts of Deathtrap, Sweeney Todd and Noises Off. In January 2018, Garber joined Bernadette Peters in the revival of Hello, Dolly! at the Shubert Theater. The Hollywood Reporter called his rendition of Horace Vandergelder “emotionally vulnerable, making us care more deeply.”

    Canadian artist Rainer Andreesen announced in 2015 that he and Garber had gotten married. 


  • Rob Reiner as Jay

    The son of The Dick Van Dyke Show creator Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner attended UCLA film school and became a force in filmmaking. He starred in All in the Family in the 1970s, but gained acclaim as a director of films including Stand by Me, The Princess Bride and A Few Good Men, for which he received his one and only Oscar nomination.He also directed future Sleepless in Seattle co-star Ryan in Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally in 1989.

    After his stint as Sam Baldwin’s friend and dating adviser (“What is tiramisu?” “You’ll find out”) in Sleepless in Seattle, he acted in The Wolf of Wall Street and New Girl.

    More recently, his presidential biopic LBJ premiered in November 2017, and even President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter praised the authentic portrayal. And at the 2017 Zurich Film Festival, Reiner received a standing ovation for the world premiere of Shock and Awe, about journalists investigating President George W. Bush entering the Iraq War; it was acquired by Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV this year.