Appearing virtually on The Late Show on Tuesday night, Tom Hanks chatted with host Stephen Colbert about his experience with the novel coronavirus, which he and his wife Rita Wilson contracted in March (they have since recovered).
The late night host joked near the top of the show that Hanks, 64, and Wilson, 63, were “the first famous people” to be diagnosed with the virus, and the actor said he was surprised to get it. “We had no idea how it could have happened, where it could have happened,” said Hanks.
The couple had tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling from the U.S. to Australia, where Hanks was in preproduction for Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie for Warner Bros. The pair were briefly hospitalized and then quarantined in a rented home there for several weeks, occasionally sharing updates on their status via social media.
Noting that he and his wife had very different symptoms — Wilson had a high fever, headaches and lost her sense of smell and taste — Hanks said that after they were diagnosed they found themselves in a hospital with medical staff covered in PPE protective gear. Their temperatures, oxygen levels and lungs were constantly tested throughout their hospital stay.
He goes on to say that it took eight or nine days to get over the coronavirus, and that during the worst of it his bones “felt like they were made of soda crackers.” He also described being very fatigued and sore.
Now that Hanks has recovered, he doesn’t know if he’s immune or if he can get the virus again. “No one really knows what the X factor is,” said the actor, adding that he does read a lot about it. Hanks has also donated plasma for those who need it. “I thought plasma was like giving blood,” said the actor, explaining that he later realized that they just take out the plasma from your blood — not the blood itself. He added that there’s a lot of paperwork involved, but no discomfort in the process.
Asked how he feels when he sees people not wearing masks, Hanks responded that wearing a face covering is literally the least one can do. He wears a cloth bandanna, washes his hands and tries to stay 6 feet away from other people.
As far as self-isolation productivity, Colbert joked that he gets through, but he’s not improving himself — asking the actor about what he’s made or learned during this time. Hanks said that he hasn’t gone as far as learning something like Portuguese, but he “took a stab” at some instant pot recipes. He also gave up bread, sugar and alcohol for a period of two weeks.
Hanks can currently be seen in the submarine thriller Greyhound, which he says was shot for two weeks on an actual ship, while the rest was filmed “on a very complicated set” in Baton Rouge. Hanks’ son Chet is also in the movie, and the actor noted that it was “incredible fun” to work alongside him — a “bona fide actor” in his own right.
Toward the end of the interview, Colbert and Hanks joked about the family nature of the lockdown, with the late night host saying that his children have helped him with his camera, lighting and Zoom calls for his show. “Every day is bring your family to work day,” said Hanks with a laugh. “Every single day.”