Oprah: In a Hollywood that often exploits celebrities' relationships, I've never heard one negative thing about your marriage. What keeps it so real?
Tom: That it is real. 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.
Oprah: Is Rita your best friend?
Tom: Yes, in addition to being my lover. And it has been that way from the very beginning. We laugh just as much now at two in the morning as we always have. And we fight less and less.
Oprah: Has your marriage gotten better with time?
Tom: Yes. Everyone says, "You have to work at relationships." Sometimes you've got to work, but if you're working 60 percent of the time and only enjoying it 40 percent....
Oprah: So you and Rita don't have to work at it much?
Tom: 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.
Oprah: If Rita had been the first person you were with, would you have been ready for this?
Tom: No. The success of our relationship was a matter of timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection. When I married Rita, I thought, "This is going to require some change on my part." 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. In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here. Not that marriage doesn't come close to being hell in a handbasket sometimes. But we both know that no matter what, we'll be with each other—and we'll get through it.
Oprah: Do you believe in fate—that there is a life predestined for you?
Tom: In Forrest Gump, which has now entered into the pantheon of movies you can tear apart, [director] Bob Zemeckis came along with this thing about whether each of us is a feather floating along in a breeze—and I think that's bull.
Oprah: Do you believe you're the captain of your own soul?
Tom: Without question, we make choices—and those choices have consequences. So can you control your own destiny? To a degree, certainly. Must you have faith in serendipity? Without question, you'd better. Otherwise you're foolish.