While preparing for the film, Tom met with the real Charlie Wilson many times. He might be in his 70s and wear cowboy boots with slacks, but Tom says this notorious ladies' man is still a charmer.
"[Charlie] came into the office just to meet everybody and say hello," Tom says. "I was impressed with his gravitas. He has a great deep voice and he's tall—he's like 6'4''. When he left, I asked the women who work in the office, 'What do you think of him?' All of them said, 'Oh, he's got something.'"
During production, Tom says Charlie was around a lot to help maintain a degree of authenticity. "He didn't care about his individual character," Tom says. "[He said], 'You can display my character, my behavior any way you want to. But what really happened is important, and I want to make sure that people realize that.'"
As a filmmaker, Tom says his philosophy is, "If it really happened, why make anything up?"
"What really happens, by and large, is much more fascinating than any piece of fiction," he says. "Charlie did this. He said this. He went through this. So let's find out what happened first, and then, [we'll] make stuff up if we have to."
Charlie may not make it into history books, but Tom says he's a fascinating example of how average citizens can accomplish incredible feats. "You [might] adhere to a stereotype about a no-good, do-nothing guy from a little section of Texas that doesn't mean anything," he says. "And, in fact, a guy like that can change the world, which is an example to all of us, quite frankly."
Julia Roberts's Bikini Scene
Julia also had the opportunity to meet the inspiration behind her character, the real Joanne Herring.
"I met her in Morocco. I was wearing UGG boots and sweatpants, and I had my wig half off," Julia says. "She walked in. She was wearing fur and a huge necklace, and I wanted to say, 'It will be better when it's done!'"
In the '80s, Joanne was one of the wealthiest women in Texas and a Houston socialite. To capture Joanne's confidence and glamour, Julia donned a blond wig and painted her nails red. When Julia's daughter Hazel saw a photo of her in costume, Julia says she said, "Oh, look, cuckoo mommy!"
When Julia signed on to play Joanne, she knew she'd have to wear a bikini in one scene. What she didn't know was that she'd be four months pregnant at the time! "Danny and I told Mike and Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols's wife," Julia says. "We told them because they're great friends, and we wanted to share our lovely news with them. I also kind of thought maybe if [Mike] knew, I could kind of get out of [that scene]."
When the time came to bare her tummy, Julia says she sucked it in and tried to get her robe on as quickly as she could!
"You look great!" Oprah says.
In June 2007, five months after baring her belly in a bikini, Julia gave birth to her third child, a little boy named Henry.
Julia says her twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus, were born at 1:21 and 1:22. Then, two and a half years later, Henry was born at 1:23! "I have to say, little Henry's the sweetest child known to mankind," she says. "I think I can say that objectively."
She'll get no argument from Oprah, who stopped by Julia's hotel room to see the children. "Henry is the cutest Munchkin," Oprah says. "He's just the cutest baby boy."
"I didn't find Henry as cute," Tom jokes. "I thought, 'He's small, and he smells good. He has an innocent baby-like quality to him.' But as far as being off the scale cute, I found him to be like an 8 or a 9 on a scale of 10."
Julia says Henry's arrival has changed their family forever. "It just completed us," she says. "We're complete. We're a good five-some."
With three children and a loving husband at home, Julia says choosing her next movie has become more difficult. "I just made a decision to make a movie next year, and I found it was almost too big of a decision because I don't make it a lot," she says. "I'm out of the practice of making the decision."
When Oprah and Julia tried to slip away to have a drink at Julia's hotel, Oprah says Finn held onto his mom and said, "Mom, I don't want you to go. I don't want you to go."
"So I'm thinking, we're just going to go downstairs and have some bubbly water," Oprah says. "What happens when you want to go away to do a movie?"
Thankfully, Julia didn't have to go far to shoot some scenes in Charlie Wilson's War, but when she did have to travel, she says she consulted her family first.
"It's a real team effort in our house," she says. "Everything that goes on has to sort of pass everybody's approval. Danny and the kids, everybody has to want to go and be part of it or else it doesn't work. Moms know [what it's like] when you leave the house, and your kids are crying and saying, 'Don't go.' So I usually don't go."
Just a few months after the birth of her third child, Julia had something else to celebrate—her 40th birthday! In October 2007, Julia's family and friends gathered at her home in New Mexico to mark the milestone. Unfortunately, a few famous friends got a little lost along the way.
"Mike [Nichols] and Diane [Sawyer] were coming to my birthday party," Julia says. "And Mike called and said, 'Darling, we're here at...' and he gave my address, 'and you are not here.' And I said, 'Well, you're in Santa Fe right now, and I live about 160 miles from Santa Fe.'"
They had the right address...but the wrong city! Julia says when Diane knocked on the wrong door at 8:30 p.m., the owner answered and said, "Well, hello!"
"God love them, they just got back on their horse and rode into my town and came to my birthday party," Julia says.
The party was planned by Julia's husband, Danny. "I get weepy discussing Danny Moder with [Julia] because of what Danny Moder has done to her life...I've seen the difference," Oprah says. "She became a different person."
"I came into my own," Julia says. "He gave me that freedom and that confidence and that support to just do it right."
Julia was honored at the 2007 American Cinematheque Award ceremony—and Tom was there to pay tribute to his Charlie Wilson's War co-star. In his speech, Tom joked there is one word, with just five letters, that may help you survive working with Julia Roberts. "Quake. Q-U-A-K-E."
"Q stands for question. Because for the rest of your life, everybody wants to know, 'What's Julia Roberts like?'"
"U is for upstaging. Upstaging means another actor steals your focus. And when you share the screen with Julia Roberts, you might as well be a waffle iron sitting in a tree because you are being upstaged. No one is even looking at you."
"A is for asterisk. Because for the rest of your life, even if you win the Nobel Peace Prize, it will say on your tombstone, 'Winner of Nobel Peace Prize...and made film with Julia Roberts.'"
"K is for knowledge. Knowledge that you can't change any of these facts. You've just got to accept them."
"And E is for everybody. Because everybody loves Julia—everybody, everybody, everybody loves Julia Roberts."
Tom wasn't the only one who honored Julia. Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Sally Field and Bruce Willis all shared memories of working with the "pretty woman". "Everybody was so loving and nice and I just thought, 'This is a profoundly beautiful moment that, whether I deserve it or don't deserve it, here it is,'" she says. " I just let it wrap around me like a big, giant, yummy hug. I had the best time."
For 19 years, Tom and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have been known as one of the classiest couples in Hollywood—which Tom credits to Rita.
"My wife, Rita Wilson, is the greatest thing that's ever happened to the planet Earth," he says. "You go through life thinking [you know] the way to do things, right? And then you meet somebody who says, 'You don't know anything. You have no social graces. You don't really know how to talk to people or listen to people. You need to learn some things.' ... My wife has made me 100 percent man. I was only about 68 percent until I met my wife.
"That woman has loved me skinny, she's loved me fat, she's loved me bald, she's loved me hairy. That woman, I know, loves me," Tom says. "I'm a lucky man."
It may be hard to believe, but Tom's oldest son Colin, also an actor, is about to turn 30. Tom says he's realistic with his kids about following him to Hollywood. "I say, 'If you love it, it's your life. Pursue it,'" he says. "I mean, if you love laying brick or designing plumbing systems, do that. But if you want to do the hard work, if you want to go out there and enjoy the entire process—getting the job, not getting the job, having the job, doing the job—man, it's the greatest life in the world."
Tom was drawn to acting for a simple reason. "It was fun—that's it," he says. "It was just more fun than I could ever possibly imagine and it still is."
When he was coming up, Tom says, his two favorite actors were Jason Robards and Robert Duvall. One of his favorite movie scenes features Robert in a Clint Eastwood Western called Hang 'Em High. "I just thought, I've never seen anything remotely like that before," he says.
Tom's never worked with Robert, but he did work with Jason in the film Philadelphia. "That was like, 'Pinch me,'" Tom says.
With so many outstanding movies in his body of work, Tom says a favorite is hard to pick. Though he does admit that 2000's Cast Away is at the top of the list. In the film, Tom plays a man who survives a plane crash only to be stranded on a deserted island. "We broke a lot of rules on that and we went through huge adventures," Tom says.
It wasn't all fun and games on set. When Tom noticed some pain and swelling in his leg during filming, he made a trip to the doctor. "He looked at it and he pressed it and my leg was swelling up like a sausage. And he said, 'I have to put you in the hospital as soon as possible."
Tom was diagnosed with a severe staph infection that, according to his doctor, was about an hour away from giving him blood poisoning that would kill him. He was hospitalized for three days, and filming shut down for three weeks.
Tom's charm, ability to stay grounded and "nice guy" attitude is one of the reasons moviegoers are smitten. But they aren't the only ones! Oprah has a little surprise in store for Tom, a message from actor Patrick Wilson.
Patrick, who starred in the Academy Award®-nominated film Little Children, says Tom had a profound effect on his career. In 1995, Patrick says he and a friend went to see a stage production of Hamlet. Just as the lights started to go down, Patrick saw Tom walk in! At intermission, he worked up the nerve to say hello.
"I just sort of [stuck out] my hand out and said, 'Excuse me, Mr. Hanks.' And the only thing I could think of to say was, 'My mom said she wanted me to be just like you because you seem like a really nice guy.'"
Patrick says Tom was gracious and kind, and offered a single word of advice, "persevere." "It just gave us a strength. And when you're an actor, that's all you want is confidence and strength," Patrick says.
Besides being generous to fans—and fellow actors—Oprah says Tom is also the guy you want to sit next to at a party. "He is a guy's guy," she says, "but he also can tell a story like a girl."
Of the millions of people who have MySpace pages, how many of them are 51-year-old actors with two Academy Awards®?
Tom made headlines when he joined the networking website usually favored by a younger crowd. Why? "Just to put some stuff out there and be more interesting. Answer questions that nobody else ever asks. You know, books I read, things like that. Also, quite frankly, it's shameless self-promotion, Oprah," Tom jokes. "That's all it is. Because I found I'm not going to be able to take over the world and bend it to my will unless I have a MySpace page."
In addition to his favorite music and movies, a blog and videos, the page includes Tom's personal motto: "Huh? Wha'?"
"That's my reaction to almost everything that goes on in this world," Tom jokes. "Huh? Wha'? How did that happen?"
Julia also has been hard at work on a non-acting project. She and Danny have designed bracelets for Emporio Armani to benefit Bono's (RED)™ campaign—which fights HIV/AIDS in Africa. There are "boy" and "girl" bracelets, each decorated with a sketch of a tree by Danny and the words "Revolution, Evolution, Devotion," or RED.
The bracelets are now on sale at www.emporioarmani.com. Forty percent of profits go to the (RED)™ global fund.
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