Rita Wilson Reveals How Becoming a Singer-Songwriter Transformed Her Entire Career

One of Hollywood’s favorite couples, actors Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks became the first big celebrity couples to be diagnosed with the infectious virus, COVID-19. In a recent interview, Wilson explained that she was actually thankful for the timing of her diagnosis. But she also talked about her career as a whole — and how her songwriting influenced her acting career.

Rita Wilson chose different kinds of parts in movies when she was a young actress

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson attends The Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s “Unforgettable Evening” | Tibrina Hobson/WireImage

In a June 2020 interview with the AARP, Wilson looked back on how her career transformed over time.

“When I turned 50,” she told the magazine, “my pal Nora Ephron raised a glass of champagne and said, ‘I didn’t direct my first movie until I was your age. Great things can happen!’ That was huge for me.” (Ephron is a screenwriter and director; she wrote You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia, and Sleepless in Seattle). But Wilson had her own goals.

“I’d always dreamed of being a singer,” the 63-year-old continued.

Then I met singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi. She became my mentor and brought in these amazing musicians, which led to Rita Wilson, my first album of originals.

Wilson’s first album of songs she wrote changed everything for her acting career

The actress-turned-songwriter explained to AARP how music changed her life.

“Writing music made me feel so much more connected to who I really was as a person and an artist,” Wilson said. But or her acting career, it was especially transformational.

… I realized then that, in my acting career, I’d been doing a lot of roles I’d taken on many, many times before — the warm, supportive sisters, mothers and pals I’d played in movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Now and Then.

Rita Wilson
Actress Rita Wilson in 1985 | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

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Wilson got to a point where she thought, “‘I’m done with that!”

“I’m only going to do things that really interest me or that say something important,” the actress said she thought at the time. She expanded on how that changed the types of parts she chose as an actress.

“I started choosing parts that were more aligned with that vision, like the narcissistic mother on Girls or the tough lawyer on The Good Wife,” Wilson shared. “It was so liberating!”

At age 63, Rita Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Australia

Wilson also told the magazine about her and Hanks’ coronavirus experience earlier this year.

“Tom and I came down with COVID-19 in March in Australia, where he was filming and I had singing engagements,” she shared. “I’m grateful we recovered fully and that we got it early on, before there were so many deaths.”

While both Hanks and Wilson were grateful to recover, they were also lucky to have gone through it together. As Wilson pointed out, so many people diagnosed with coronavirus didn’t have that privilege.

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson in 2014 | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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“I think about all the people who’ve had to go through it alone, with no one to touch them, hug them, wipe a tear from their faces, laugh with them,” Wilson said. “We’re humans. We need to be together, even if it’s only on FaceTime.”