Tom Hanks Explains How Wife Rita Wilson Turned Him on to Nora Ephron

Tom Hanks Nora Ephron - H 2012
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Tom Hanks Nora Ephron - H 2012

The actor was a fan before starring in the late writer-director's movies "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail."

In a tribute to Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks says he was a fan of the writer-director even before he starred in her movies Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.

The actor revealed in a piece for Time magazine that his wife, Rita Wilson, first introduced him to Ephron's work in 1992, when she took him to see her movie This Is My Life.

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"Though that movie would be considered only a middling success, it was inexpensive to make, had wonderful, real performances, looked great (though Nora said to me years later, 'Why didn’t I move the camera?') and made some money," Hanks wrote of Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71 after a battle with leukemia.

He also said he was impressed with her decision to film a "geographically correct moving montage," in which Julie Kavner's character drives a "real car in real traffic in the actual order of transit required" to get from one place to another.

So when she reached out to Hanks' reps about starring in her second directorial effort, 1993's Sleepless in Seattle, he "actually hollered at my agent, 'She shot that geographically authentic move into Manhattan!'"

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Hanks said Ephron helped him out with his own writing, emphasizing how important having a "voice" is. He also praised her films for mining "society's gold," noting that she included a reference in Sleepless to "the guy with the shop that sells only soup, but it’s so good, people line up for it. That was Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi years before Seinfeld discovered him."

On a personal level, Hanks said Ephron had a huge influence on him.

"Knowing and loving Nora meant her world -- or her neighborhood -- became yours," he wrote. "She gave you books to read and took you to cafés you’d never heard of that became legends. You discovered Krispy Kremes from a box she held out, and you learned that there is such a thing as the perfect tuna sandwich. She would give your kids small, goofy parts in movies with the caveat that they might not make the final cut but you’d get a tape of the scene."

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He also said that she once gave him and his wife an orange tree as a wrap present, which has now become "a constant and perfect reminder of the woman we loved so much."