Oprah: Are you always looking for a role that will take you to the next level?
Tom: I'm not looking for anything. If you start looking for something specific, then you take providence right out of it. You can't completely control it. Otherwise you'd make the same kind of movie over and over again, which some people say I've done. I have faith that a script is going to hit me like a ton of bricks, and when that happens, it's undeniable that I should choose the role.
Oprah: With all the buzz leading up to your nomination as best actor for Cast Away, I was shocked that they didn't call your name on Oscar night. Did you think you were going to win?
Tom: No, no, no.
Oprah: We all just wanted another speech about Rita!
Tom: Well, you would have heard a doozy!
Oprah: I told everyone that you would win—because all actors know how hard it is to act alone across from a darn volleyball! That's the hardest thing on earth.
Tom: I know how the Academy Awards works: It's a card game, and I'm in the toss-up category.
Oprah: Do you see yourself as a successful actor, father, husband, and human being?
Tom: Up to now, I have been. Anything can happen after this.
Oprah: And if nothing else happened after this, would you still see yourself as successful?
Tom: Look, if I stopped having passion, I'd be done. The truth is I'll probably be able to work from now on. Whether it's at the level I'm doing it at now is beside the point, because my work is really a blast. When it stops being a blast, then it ain't no fun no more!
Oprah: When you first become successful, you're just happy to fly first-class. It's like, "Look at all this legroom!" Does having all of the physical comforts of success allow you to look for more meaning in your work?
Tom: The free headphones in first class? All that stuff becomes relative. And yet I'm always aware of how little I have to worry about financially.
Oprah: Isn't it better to have experienced all of this after growing up with so little?
Tom: The challenge now is how Rita and I will rear our children, who do have everything. All that most parents hope is that their children are happy, funny, well adjusted, and have a passion for something in their lives. What would negate everything is if the next generation that we're responsible for has a passionless existence. And that's cause for occasional sleepless nights.
We Hear You!