The Trick To Tom Hanks And Rita Wilson’s 31-Year Marriage
Too often we hear of celebrity marriages coming to an end. Miley and Liam, Brad and Angelina, Chris and Anna — the list goes on. So it’s heartening to remind ourselves of the celebrity marriages that have stood the test of time. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are 31 years into their star-powered relationship and still going strong. What’s their secret? According to Hanks, it’s all about “timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection,” as he told Oprah in back in 2001.
And having gone through their relationship timeline, it’s clear to see that both Hanks and Wilson have put in their fair share of work to keep their relationship growing and thriving.
With three decades of love under their belts, Hanks and Wilson have a lot of good advice to share about how to keep romance alive and marital tensions low. We went back in time and revisited how the Hanks-Wilson relationship began, and honestly, we took some notes along the way.
If you’ve ever heard either of them talk about each other, your heart just explodes.
In 2012, Rita recalled to Piers Morgan, “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.’
“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,” she said.
As if we weren’t jealous enough, Wilson told People in 2016, “Sometimes we’re just sitting on the couch talking or something like that…I don’t even have to ask for them, he always gives me back and foot rubs. He’s just cool.”
Tom says when he wakes up and sees her “in the morning looking all tousled and warm from bed in her sweats and her hair all piled up on her head,” she’s just “smokin’ hot.”
We’re pretty sure this comment on Phoebe Robinson’s Sooo Many White Guys podcast went over very well with his doting partner.
It all began with a crush back in 1972.
According to Hanks, per People, the romance officially kicked off in 1972, when Wilson was cast in her first-ever television role as Pat Conway, a rival cheerleader to Marcia Brady, on 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 while attending the NYC premiere of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in 2016.
But the couple didn’t actually meet in person until…
1981, when Hanks and Wilson costarred in Bosom Buddies.
Hanks starred as Kip Wilson for two seasons on Bosom Buddies, during which he finally got the chance to meet his Brady Bunch crush. According to OprahMag.com, Wilson made a guest appearance on an episode of Bosom Buddies that revolved around a video dating service.
But at the time, Hanks was married to his college sweetheart Samantha Lewes. Therefore, nothing happened between Hanks and Wilson.
Meanwhile, Rita was pining for true love.
“I prayed to God every day for years that he’d bring me somebody Opens a New Window. I loved who loved me in the same way. And he brought me Tom,” the Runaway Bride Opens a New Window. actress said before meeting Tom.
However, it seemed fate wanted Hanks and Wilson to find each other again.
In 1985, Hanks and Wilson costar in Volunteers.
And it was this opportunity to work together for a long period of time that got the relationship off the ground. Hanks told GQ, per People, “Rita and I just looked at each other and — kaboing — that was that.”
“I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her,” he continued, “and it just couldn’t be denied.”
But again, Hanks was married. So, Hanks and Wilson agreed to be just friends…for the time being.
However, their spark couldn’t be extinguished.
Hanks separated from Lewes in 1986, and they later divorced in ’87. “I was looking for something I had not found as a kid,” Hanks told the UK Express in 2013.
Unfortunately, this meant getting a divorce.
“And a broken marriage meant I was sentencing my own kids [Colin and Elizabeth, whom he had with Lewes] to the sort of feelings I had at their age.
After his parents divorced in 1960, Tom’s father raised him and siblings Sandra and Larry, while his youngest brother Jim was brought up by his mother.
On an interview with BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, Tom described the loneliness of his “vagabond” childhood.
He told the host, Kirsty Young, he lived in 10 houses in five years.
In his book Uncommon Type, he wrote, “My siblings would say it wasn’t that fun — we were miserable. But in some ways it was very cool, because we laughed a lot.”
Starting a family so young helped him mature quickly.
“Having a kid at 21 was the greatest thing that ever happened to me because I didn’t smoke pot. I didn’t do drugs, I was not a party boy,” he said.
Upon meeting Rita, he said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be lonely any more, that’s how I felt when I met my wife.”
“I was just too young and insecure for marriage,” he continued. “I was 23 and my son Colin was already two when I married for the first time. I was not really ready to take on those responsibilities.”
And later that year, Hanks and Wilson went public with their relationship at the Three Amigos premiere.
And in 1988, the two were married.
“When I married Rita, I thought, ‘This is going to require some change on my part,'” Hanks told Oprah in the same 2001 interview.
“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,” he added.
“In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here,” he continued. “Not that marriage doesn’t come close to being hell in a hand basket sometimes.”
The good news?
“We both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other — and we’ll get through it,” he said.
Despite their long-lasting love, Rita’s mom was shocked they married.
“She could not believe that I didn’t marry a Greek man,” Rita told Us Weekly, adding that Tom did join the Greek Orthodox Church before they tied the knot.
Her mom accepted him, anyway, for the funniest reason.
“But my parents thought he looked enough Greek and that he could blend in!” Rita added.
Right off the bat, Hanks began thanking Wilson in his acceptance speeches.
When Hanks won the 1989 Golden Globe for Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his film Big, he thanked Wilson for marrying him.
“She’s marvelous, Rita Wilson — thank you, babe, for marrying me,” Hanks said after cracking a joke about her Greek heritage. “You made my year already.”
The Golden Globe was just a nice additional touch to the year 1989 for Hanks.
In 1990, Hanks and Wilson welcomed their first child together.
Chet Hanks, now 28, joined half-siblings Colin and Elizabeth in the Hanks family in 1990. He has since made regular appearances in television shows like Empire, Shameless, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And Chet is now a father, as well. He and Tiffany Miles share 3-year-old Michaiah.
Just as one would expect, Chet is super close with his parents, and is often featured on his mother’s Instagram page.
Hanks goes on to thank Wilson during both his 1994 and 1995 Oscar wins.
He began his 1994 acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Philadelphia with, “Here’s what I know. 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.”
And when Hanks won the same award in 1995 for playing the title role in Forrest Gump, he said, “And 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.”
Following the big win, he also told Oprah, “I view my wife as my lover, and we have a bond that goes beyond words like wife or girlfriend or mother.”
And we’re truly swooning.
That same year, Hanks and Wilson welcomed Truman Hanks into the family.
The youngest of the Hanks family, Truman has yet to delve into the family business of Hollywood stardom. Perhaps he’ll lead a quieter lifestyle than his parents and older siblings.
But that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear from making a guest appearance or two on his mom’s Instagram feed.
What can we say? Moms love posting about their kids on social media. It’s just a fact of life.
The couple who co-produce together, stay together.
In 2002, Hanks and Wilson co-produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which may or may not have been ~a bit~ autobiographical, totally by accident, that is. Hanks told reporters at the film’s sequel premiere in 2016 that Wilson had seen a one-woman show by the same name and decided it had to become a film.
“My wife saw an ad back in the day in the LA Times calendar section for a one woman show called My Big Fat Greek Wedding and she laughed and said ‘I’m going to go see the show,’ and she did,” he said.
“She came home and said ‘I think that’s a movie,’ and it was.” What’s more is that it was a hit movie.
And the couple that stays together, fight battles together, as well.
In 2015, Wilson was diagnosed with breast cancer, which ultimately resulted in her double mastectomy. She took a medical leave from her Broadway play, Fish in the Dark, before revealing her diagnosis to the public via People.
“Last week, with my husband by my side, and with the love and support of family and friends, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma,” she told the outlet.
She urged others to get second opinions when your gut tells you to, as she did when she felt as though her first negative cancer screening was incorrect. “I feel blessed to have a loving, supportive husband, family, friends and doctors and that I am the beneficiary of advances in the field of breast cancer and reconstruction. I am getting better every day and look forward to renewed health.”
“I was so blown away by the care he gave me,” she added.
Their marriage truly has surpassed in sickness and in health.
After Wilson made a full recovery, she and Hanks decided to take life on the road.
While Hanks filmed Inferno in 2016, Wilson joined him while he shot on location in Italy. “We have so much fun,” she told E! News while at the film’s premiere. “Being on location is one of the greatest things. We’ve gone all over the world.”
“We’ve gotten to live in cities that you normally wouldn’t get to live in and become a normal person and going to the market and finding your favorite coffee store and shop,” she said.
“Just pretending that you’re a local and that’s really great.”
It’s been 31 years, and these two are still as supportive of each other as always.
Wilson travels to where Hanks is working. And Hanks travels to where Wilson is performing. Earlier this year, Hanks attended the ceremony in which Wilson received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“The lesson here is that Rita Wilson knows what she is doing,” Hanks said at the ceremony.
“Her instincts are wicked sharp, so we all know how warranted it is that Rita Wilson be immortalized here with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” he concluded.
He couldn’t stop gushing about her accomplishments, saying:
“She has a highlight reel that any of us would envy.”
Just a few months later, Hanks attended the Stagecoach country music festival to cheer Wilson on.
Wilson performed tracks off her latest album Halfway to Home at the festival, which took place in April 2019 in Indio, California. One such track was “Throw Me A Party,” which she wrote after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had so many different thoughts,” Wilson said, per Rolling Stone. “So I had a serious discussion with my husband that if anything happens, what I’d like is a party, a celebration.”
Luckily, the only party Hanks had to throw was an afterparty celebrating Wilson’s performance at Stagecoach.
Wilson also wrote a song about her lasting marriage with Hanks.
“The Spark” is another song that debuted on Halfway to Home. On April 30th, 2019, Wilson wrote a touching Instagram caption to celebrate her 31st anniversary with Hanks and promote the song.
“People often ask what is our secret to a long marriage,” she wrote. “In any long term relationship, if you’re lucky, you started with a spark, that beautiful glimmer that ignites into a lasting love.”
“Fires need to be tended to, stoked, added to, watched,” she added. “As long as there is a spark you’ll always have a fire.”
Although these two have a strong, lasting relationship, they still bicker from time to time.
“Usually when driving,” Wilson told People in 2016 at the premiere of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. And honestly, that’s too relatable.
“That is hilarious. She’s actually telling you the truth right now,” Hanks added.
“I am driving, what I always say is, ‘Just don’t you worry your pretty little head. All you have to do is sit there and ride and I will decide how to get there,'” he said, to which they both laughed.
Despite the occasional driving-related spat, their marriage is solid.
So solid, in fact, that tabloids can’t even put a dent in it with a flagrant headline. “In a Hollywood that often exploits celebrities’ relationships, I’ve never heard one negative thing about your marriage. What keeps it so real?” Oprah asked Hanks in 2001.
“That it is real,” Hanks replied. “But let’s not pretend there isn’t a huge industry driven by the choices made by editors and writers who decide what a story is.”
“Rita and I are not fodder for a lot of those stories because we’re not glamorous targets who warrant that kind of attention.”
And according to Hanks, their relationship continues to get better with time.
“Everyone says, ‘You have to work at relationships,'” he told Oprah in the same interview. “Sometimes you’ve got to work, but if you’re working 60 percent of the time and only enjoying it 40 percent…We deal with what has to be dealt with, but there is something natural to the foundation of our marriage.”
“I am now at the point where I can’t imagine it any other way,” he said.
However, as he noted earlier in the interview, he knows it wouldn’t have worked if Rita had been the first person he had a relationship and marriage with. Timing and maturity was everything.
Now, they’re grandparents.
Their son Chet has a daughter, Michaiah, who In Touch says the pair have “fallen in love with,” and two grandchildren, from Tom’s kids with Samantha Lewes, named Olivia and Charlotte.
Chet revealed in June that the birth of his daughter “pretty much single handedly” pushed him to address his addictions.
He said to Access Live in a sit down interview: ‘If my daughter wasn’t born, I don’t know if I would’ve made the change necessary. She saved my life, honestly.’
The eldest son of Tom and Rita, admitted to ET that he “had known for a while” that he needed to get sober, but explained while on drugs, he wasn’t ready to make the changes and put in the work.
“There’s a part of you that knows that you need to make a change but you can’t really shut that door on your life and just move on to a new chapter,” he reflected during the interview. “For me, it took something drastic happening, like becoming a father, for me to make the change.”
According to Chet, Tom and Rita couldn’t have been more supportive of their son through his battle with substance abuse.
“Every step of the way,” he said. “They’ve always been there for me and I’m really lucky.”
He said they also really “love being grandparents.”
“It’s awesome seeing them being grandparents as well, because I was really close with my grandparents and now my daughter gets to have the same experience,” Hanks shared, adding that they offer to babysit his little girl “all the time.”
Judging by all the positive press Hanks gets on Wilson’s Instagram…
…We think it’s safe to say she feels the same. “Is there really a day called #husbandappreciationday?” Wilson captioned an April 2019 Instagram post. “Is it today? Will there be new @hallmark cards for the occasion?”
“In any event, it’s true! I do appreciate my husband, @tomhanks !
And we appreciate all the super sweet relationship content.
Despite all this time, Tom still considers himself lucky to have caught his wife’s eye.
“I still can’t believe my wife goes out with me,” Hanks said. “If we were in high school and I was just funny, I’d never have the courage to talk to her.”
And he doesn’t agree with people who claim marriage is hard work.
“No it’s not,” Hanks told People. “Every now and again you know, you gotta get over some stuff but life is one damn thing after another and its actually more pleasant to be able to go home with someone you like to spend time with in order to get with it.”
The one piece of advice he strongly encourages?
“No one should get married before they’re 30,” he declared.
In addition to partners and parents, they consider themselves best friends.
“In addition to being my lover. And it has been that way from the very beginning,” he said in an interview with Oprah Magazine. “We laugh just as much now at two in the morning as we always have. And we fight less and less.”
Do we think Hanks and Wilson will turn their love story into a film?
Because we’d really, really like that. Think When Harry Met Sally meets uh…Toy Story? Get back to us — we’ll workshop it.
But knowing that the success of the relationship is partly due to their privacy, we have a feeling Hanks and Wilson won’t take their marriage timeline to the big screen any time soon.
Knowing that it exists in real life is enough for us, anyway.