Tom Hanks Opens Up About First Marriage, Meeting Rita Wilson

Why the actor said it didn't work and how he met his current wife of 28 years.

ByABC News
May 9, 2016, 11:09 AM
Tom Hanks attends the UK premiere of "A Hologram for the King" at BFI Southbank on April 25, 2016 in London.
Tom Hanks attends the UK premiere of "A Hologram for the King" at BFI Southbank on April 25, 2016 in London.
Fred Duval/FilmMagic/Getty Images

— -- Tom Hanks is an Oscar winner and one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood. But the 59-year-old explained to BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs" that it wasn't always the case.

In fact, Hanks had a pretty lonely childhood. When the station played one of his song choices from his youth, he was instantly taken back to that time and even got a little emotional.

Hanks said the question he would ask himself as a young man was, "How do I find the vocabulary for what’s rattling around in my head?"

He continued in his young search for a purpose, "Not long after this, I started going to the American Conservatory Theater by myself to see plays that I had no idea even existed.”

A taken back Hanks reflected on his life as a teen, and sounding a little broken up, he paused and then said, "What have you done to me?" He also laughed after, but was noticeably a bit shaken.

"What it was, was the vocabulary of loneliness," the "Forrest Gump" star said.

Later in life, he had a "lightning bolt" moment, where he discovered all the great plays were about loneliness.

"That's why I'm here," he said he realized.

Hanks also credited a young marriage at just 21, with two kids, to quelling the loneliness.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I had kids very young, my son Colin was born when I was 21 and my daughter Elizabeth was born four and a half years later. By then I thought I was rolling along with the natural order of things."

He said being a young father was a struggle and the family survived "piecemeal."

Hanks and his first wife Samantha Lewes divorced in 1987 and he married Rita Wilson the next year. He said by the time he was 27, 28, he had "experienced enough bitter compromise that I overcame."

"There was stuff that should have destroyed me and it did not," he said.

But Hanks said having a kid so young was a blessing.

"I didn’t smoke pot. I didn’t go into drugs, I was not a party boy. I didn't drink too much," he said. "I went to bed at 10 minutes after 10 p.m. ... The rules were in place and I'm not a cheater. I like to play by the rules. But later on, you're 27, 28, you've learned what to say 'yes' to ... and you end up meeting that other person, man, woman ... that 'Oh, she gets it!'"

With Wilson, he said he told himself back then, "I don't think I'm ever going to be lonely anymore."