Oscar® winners Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks have been friends of The Oprah Show for so long, they're practically family. "Whenever they're here, it's always a rip-roaring, laugh-out-loud good time," Oprah says.
Julia made her first appearance back in 1989, when she sat down with her Steel Magnolias co-stars. Since then, she has shared the stage with Oprah 21 times. Viewers watched as she became a wife and a mother and took on lead roles in movies like Erin Brockovich and Eat Pray Love.
Tom's first appearance was back in 1988, when he talked to Oprah about his movie Punchline. In the years since, he's won back-to-back Oscars and taken on memorable roles in films like Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Cast Away. This is the 13th time he has appeared on The Oprah Show.
Tom and Julia shared the silver screen in the 2007 hit, Charlie Wilson's War, and now, they're teaming up yet again in a new movie, Larry Crowne. Tom wrote, produced and directed the film, which tells the story of a man who gets laid off and goes back to junior college.
"Nia Vardalos, who wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I started talking about this about six years ago," Tom says. "Junior college, for me, it was the only avenue I had to a higher education. ... Junior college saved my life when I was 19, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to go back to junior college? And so what are the circumstances that would make a guy like me go back to junior college?' And losing his job was a big one."
Tom says he always had Julia in mind to play Larry's college professor, Mercedes Tainot, a woman in the midst of a full-blown midlife crisis. "I always thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if Julia would do it?'" he says.
Julia says Tom's movie pitch was timed perfectly. "I had just arrived in Rome beginning Eat Pray Love," she says. "I was carbo-loading and drunk, and I get this email [from Tom] that says, 'This is just business. If you don't like it, we're still buddies. Have a look and tell me what you think.' Now had he sent this four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 weeks later? [I would have said], 'No, I can't.' But I was all fresh with how creative and fabulous it is to make a movie, and I read it, and I thought it was so winning and funny. And the idea of being an alcoholic school teacher at junior college was just too good to be true."
For the first time, Tom and Julia get romantically entangled on the silver screen in Larry Crowne, but in real life, they're both happily married.
Tom and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, just celebrated their 23rd anniversary. "I won the lottery with my wife. ... [She's] the greatest thing that's happened to the planet Earth. My wife made me 100 percent man. I was only about 68 percent until I met her," Tom says. "Our eyes will still meet across a crowded room, and there's a little something."
Julia says she's held tight to the role of Mrs. Danny Moder. "He hates when I talk about him, but I just love him to bits," she says. "My girlfriend, Kelly Meyer, said this great thing one time. She said, 'If you want an interesting relationship, stay in one.' And it's true, because 11 years later, it just gets more and more interesting being with him every day. ... And he's hot."
Tom and Julia have learned a lot through their years in show business, and Tom says he's developed one mantra for living. "Tell the truth," he says. "That's it. That's the secret of happiness. If you tell the truth, everything will work out."
When he's not on a movie set, Tom says he's just a typical guy who likes to sit on the couch and watch shows like the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. "When you're just at home being Tom Hanks, what are you doing?" Oprah asks.
"Scratching my crotch," Tom jokes.
"Oh, my God," Oprah says. "That is the answer I least expected!"
"I don't really work at it. It just seems to happen naturally on its own," he says. "I'm not even realizing I'm doing it half the time."
Despite being movie stars, both Tom and Julia put their jobs as parents first. Tom has four children, Colin and Elizabeth Ann from his first marriage, and Chet and Truman with Rita.
Then, in February 2011, Tom became a grandfather when Colin and his wife welcomed a little girl, Olivia Jane. "It's fabulous," he says. "When you have your own kids, you might not be aware of how new everything is—that their little brains are being imprinted for the very first time. But now, if you don't see them for two weeks, which has happened, it's a huge difference from leaving her and then seeing her two weeks later. She's like a completely different human being."
Julia loves motherhood so much, she recently produced and hosted the documentary Extraordinary Moms for OWN, in which she tells the stories of mothers around the world, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Some famous [moms] and some not," she says. "But all courageous and inspiring."