Why Rita Wilson Is ‘Grateful’ She and Tom Hanks Got COVID-19 When They Did

Rita Wilson and her husband, Hollywood icon Tom Hanks were two of the first big celebrities to test positive for COVID-19 amid the global pandemic. In a recent interview, Wilson explained why she was grateful for the timing of her and her husband’s diagnosis.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were two of the first celebrities to be diagnosed with COVID-19

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson speaks onstage during WCRF’s “An Unforgettable Evening” in February 2020 | Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for WCRF

“Having breast cancer made me realize that the things you always think happen to other people can happen to you,” Wilson told AARP in a recent interview. She reflected on her time in Australia, where she and her husband, Tom Hanks, were diagnosed with coronavirus. The couple was in Australia while Hanks was shooting a film there.

Wilson explained:

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

Wilson didn’t know the magnitude of the pandemic at the time; of course, none of us did.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attend the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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“If we’d known how serious the illness really was, it would have been a lot more frightening,” she continued. Now, the shocking reality of the global outbreak is in the news constantly. Wilson lamented:

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. We’re humans. We need to be together, even if it’s only on FaceTime.

Rita Wilson says that when she was a young actress, she chose different kinds of movies

However, Wilson is grateful for where she is in life. In the AARP interview, she remembered spending time with Nora Ephron, writer and director of rom-com classics like Sleepless in Seattle.

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks during the filming of Volunteers in 1985 | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

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“When I turned 50, 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!'” Wilson recalled. “That was huge for me.” However, Wilson’s dream wasn’t directing.

“I’d always dreamed of being a singer,” Wilson explained. “So, first I made an album of classics from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” Eventually, she released Rita Wilson, her “first album of originals.”

Releasing her self-written songs helped Wilson connect to new roles

Wilson also told AARP about how music helped her acting career.

“Writing music made me feel so much more connected to who I really was as a person and an artist,” Wilson shared. She continued:

And 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.

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Wilson finally decided, “‘I’m done with that!” She wanted parts that were a bit more grounded, in movies that had a true purpose. Now, the actress only does projects “that really interest [her] or that say something important.”

“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 explained. “It was so liberating!”