Why Rita Wilson Stopped Playing ‘Supportive Sisters, Mothers, and Pals’ in Movies

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, longtime members of the Hollywood royalty, both have long resumes of acting work behind them. But for Wilson, her movie and TV career took a turn after it dawned on the actress that she kept on playing the same roles. What helped Wilson find parts more on track with her “vision?”

Rita Wilson wanted to do more as an actress than play the ‘supportive sisters’ and ‘mothers’ — and song-writing helped her see that

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Recently, AARP‘s magazine talked to Rita Wilson about how her career has changed over the years. She described finding song-writing as completely transformational — especially when it came to the roles she chose as an actress. Wilson shared:

Writing music made me feel so much more connected to who I really was as a person and an artist. 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. 

Getting more in touch with herself and her “vision,” the actress said, changed how she approached selecting new parts. It meant moving away from those more stereotypically feminine roles — and finding projects with a bit more edge.

“.. I was, like, ‘I’m done with that! I’m only going to do things that really interest me or that say something important,” she explained. Wilson mentioned, as examples: “the narcissistic mother on Girls or the tough lawyer on The Good Wife.” And how did it feel for Wilson to make that shift?

 “It was so liberating!” she told the AARP interviewer.

At age 63, Wilson shares her musical talents with her children and grandchildren

The actress/singer also gushed about her grandkids.

“Grandchildren are so pure,” she said. “They put you in touch with the child part of yourself. They make you laugh like mad.” Wilson went on to explain how she is teaching one of her gifts — song-writing — to one of her grandchildren. (Virtually, of course.)

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson in 2019 | Leon Bennett/WireImage

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“Just today, I FaceTimed my 9-year-old granddaughter — I’m teaching her how to write a song on her piano — and she made changes that improved the song,” Wilson shared. “I love a girl with ideas and opinions.”

Hollywood couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson made a deal when Wilson got sick with cancer

Looking back on her long career in music, Wilson also reflected on the first-ever song she wrote, titled “Grateful.”

“‘Grateful’ was about how we all have hard times, but they sometimes lead to things that ultimately make us happier,” she told AARP. “Soon afterward, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery.”

Luckily, Wilson recovered. However, things got serious enough that she had to have a tough conversation with her husband, Tom Hanks.

I told my husband that if I were to go before he did, I wanted two things: 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.

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

The concept of celebrating her life, rather than just mourning it, actually inspired another song, featured on her newest album.

“There’s a song about that, ‘Throw Me a Party,’ on my latest album, Halfway to Home,” Wilson shared.