Why Did Rita Wilson Start Choosing Drastically Different Roles as a Young Actress?

Hollywood royalty, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks make up one of the most successful celebrity couples in the entertainment industry. Both actors, Hanks and Wilson have both enjoyed long careers in movies and TV. But at a certain point in her career, Wilson decided she was done with the types of movie roles she was choosing. What shifted her decision-making, and what kind of roles did Wilson step away from?

Rita Wilson started writing songs and releasing albums — and that changed her as an actress

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks during the filming of Volunteers | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

In June of this year, AARP interviewed actress and singer/songwriter Rita Wilson.

“When I turned 50,” Wilson recalled, “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!’” Ephron, the famous writer-director, had a huge impact on Wilson in this moment.

“That was huge for me,” the now-63-year-old told the magazine. However, directing wasn’t in the cards for Wilson — getting in touch with her dreams meant following music.

“I’d always dreamed of being a singer,” she admitted. When she found a “mentor” in the industry, it led to amazing things.

She eventually got to release her first, self-titled album.

The young actress starting choosing different roles in movies and TV shows after her musical awakening

But in finding her calling, Wilson didn’t only create great music. She also had a transformational shift in the way she looked at acting.

“Writing music made me feel so much more connected to who I really was as a person and an artist,” Wilson told AARP. Getting in touch with herself allowed her to see the kinds of roles she was choosing — and Wilson wasn’t thrilled.

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson on Monday, October 1, 2018 on TODAY | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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

Finally, the actress said, “I’m done with that!” Choosing parts with a bit more meat — roles that required Wilson’s legit acting chops — was the goal.

“I’m only going to do things that really interest me or that say something important,” Wilson remembers thinking to herself. It changed everything for her acting career.

“I started choosing parts that were more aligned with that vision,” she told the magazine. She loved, for example, playing the “narcissistic mother on Girls or the tough lawyer on The Good Wife.” Even that shift alone changed the way she felt about her career in Hollywood.

“It was so liberating!” Wilson gushed.

Rita Wilson wrote a song about celebrating her death — which is what she wants her husband Tom Hanks, and her kids to do

A few years ago, Wilson was diagnosed with breast cancer. While the actress was fortunate to recover, she said she had to have a rather dark conversation with her husband Tom Hanks at the time.

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“I told my husband that if I were to go before he did, I wanted two things,” she explained. Wilson told AARP her requirements:

One was that he should feel super sad for a really long time. The second thing was that he should hold a big celebration, with a lot of singing and dancing and people telling stories.

That concept even influenced her latest album.

“There’s a song about that, ‘Throw Me a Party,’ on … Halfway to Home,” Wilson said.