Hollywood's Dynamic Duo
Though they're two of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood, Tom and Julia have never shared screen time...until now! This dynamic duo is teaming up for their first film and their first interview together.
In the movie Charlie Wilson's War, which is based on a true story, Tom plays Charlie Wilson, a real-life Texas congressman who's known for his love of whiskey and women. Julia brings Joanne Herring, Charlie's longtime friend, benefactor and lover, to life on the big screen.
Charlie and Joanne, one of the richest women in Texas, join forces with a renegade CIA agent—played by Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman—to mastermind the most successful secret war in history. Their efforts in Afghanistan contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early '80s and the end of the Cold War.
Tom first read about this Texas politician in George Crile's best-selling book, Charlie Wilson's War. The story went from bookshelves to the big screen with the help of Mike Nichols, the award-winning director of The Graduate and Closer, and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, the mastermind behind West Wing. "It was about a five or six year process, I guess, to get it from book to Oprah," Tom says.
What made Tom so passionate about this project? "I just love true stories, especially ones that you've never heard before," he says. "When we came across it, we said, 'There's got to be a way to make this fascinating—as fascinating on screen as it is on paper.'"
Though Tom says he and the other producers took some liberties with the story, the facts were left in tact. "It started out with $5 million going to some ragtag rebels," Tom says. "It became hundreds of billions of dollars that went to them...and no one ever knew."
Julia didn't see the script until Mike Nichols, her friend and director in the film Closer, called one day. "When Mike called me and said, 'I have a movie that I'd like you to look at.' I just went ahead and said, 'I'll do it.' That's how much I love him," she says. "He said, 'No, no, you should look at it. Read it first.'"
While reading the script, Julia says she turned to her husband, Danny Moder, and said, "Oh, my God. I have to do this."
"It's just so great," she says. "Aaron Sorkin is really a masterful wordsmith, that one."
"[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."
"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.
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."
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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
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.
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.
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."
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?"
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