"You've Got Mail" marks the third on-screen pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Their previous film efforts produced mixed results at the box office. In 1990, the two co-starred in "Joe Vs. The Volcano." The film was little seen, and perhaps more to the point, little understood by moviegoers.
Excessive plots and locations probably did that picture in -- violating the age-old literary rule of unity of place and time is never a good idea. At any rate, the movie was a flop and brought in just under 40 million dollars at the box office.
Three years later, Hanks and Ryan were on screen again, albeit it rarely together, in the romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle." The true pairing in this film was not the two of these talented actors, since their scenes together in the film are practically nonexistent. The chemistry here came from the perfect marriage of man -- or woman -- and material. Hanks and Ryan were the ideal drivers for a romantic comedy engine engineered by the writing team of sisters Nora and Delia Ephron (Nora also directed). The result? A whopping $126 million in box office receipts.
Putting Ryan and Hanks together for another romantic comedy would likely seem to be a no-brainer. The only question in this reporter's mind is why it took so long -- five years, in fact -- for someone to do so.
Nora Ephron says it wasn't long after she and sister Delia were pitched the premise for "You've Got Mail that the two of them mutually agreed on putting their "Sleepless in Seattle" stars together again.
This time out, though, Ryan and Hanks share considerably more screen time. The movie is based loosely on the now-classic 1940 film, "The Shop Around The Corner," which starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The two leads played a man and woman who shared a mutual animosity for the other but who nonetheless fell for each other through letters they write to each other anonymously.
Fast forward almost half a century, and with the advent of E-mail and the Internet, moviegoers are treated to "You've Got Mail."
Turner Entertainment Report senior correspondent Andy Culpepper sat down with Ryan and Hanks in Los Angeles to talk about their latest cinematic venture. Here's an excerpt from their conversation in which Hanks and Ryan share anecdotes about their mates, actors Rita Wilson and Dennis Quaid.
Culpepper: This whole concept -- now this is not a sequel, obviously.
Culpepper:But Nora says it's sort of a distant cousin. How do you-
Hanks: That sounds pretty good-
Ryan: Leave it to Nora to put it just the right way. It is, it's sort of related.
Hanks: Yeah, in the old days I'd say this is like 'Mighty Joe Young' to 'King Kong'. How's that?
Ryan: That's really good!
Hanks: Apes, yes, but at the same time, no.
Culpepper: Was it comfortable, getting together again? Did it feel like you were just picking up where you left off?
Hanks and Ryan: Yeah!
Hanks: Yeah it was, it was not like work. I mean, now, the vast majority of making movies is getting over your self-consciousness.
Ryan: That's so true.
Hanks: Of being with people you don't know. And making the alliances and the unions and figuring out who's who and we just didn't have to do that on this movie, we just started.
Ryan: We just knew this was a trustworthy group. I like that.
Culpepper:There's a scene in there -- and I'm not going to describe it so I won't give it away -- but we see the proximity that you are in, and, you know that whole thing about? You could fall in love with somebody who's right down the street from you, and the whole notion of that is, it's compelling and it makes you optimistic.
Ryan: It's exciting kind of! You know, it makes you watch the street differently doesn't it? I have a story when I, I didn't know Dennis a long time ago -- (laughs) just so you know, and we both lived within a block of each other. I wasn't famous; he was just doing a play in New York. And we passed each other by. And I had this very strange sweater on. The sweater was from a thrift store, and he told me about two years after we were dating that he remembers seeing me on Amsterdam Avenue and 81st street walking by and turning around and looking at me and did I have a sweater that was this particular green/grey thing. And I told Nora that story, and I think a lot of that was in this movie.
Culpepper: That's wild!
Culpepper:(to Tom) And what about you and Rita?
Hanks: You know, Rita did an episode of 'Bosom Buddies', about two years before we even worked together and became an item. So there's one point where I was doing just, you know, she was just a weekly player with me and Peter Scolari and I thought, 'This is a delightful woman.' And, you know, cut to about six years later, we were getting married!
Culpepper: If you were in a chat room, with other people and your spouse, what do you think the chances are that he or she would be the person you lock in on?
Hanks: Oh, I could, I think huge.
Hanks: I think I'd be able to spot it instantly.
Ryan: Yeah what are the chances that you meet the right person anyway, I mean you know, I just think they're unavoidable in your life, the right people.
Culpepper: What's that mean? Somebody says, 'Well, that person's not my type." How do you know what your 'type' is?
Ryan: I don't know, what I love about love is that it makes no sense whatsoever. It's a thing that supersedes your intellect. It's a thing that just takes over, it's not at all logical and it's stupid half the time. I think that's fantastic to be taken over like that. To not have any kind of control over what's going on.
Hanks: I agree.
Culpepper: (to Tom) That's what happens in the film. Because (Tom's character) knows, early on, what's going on, and (Meg's character) doesn't.
Hanks: Yeah, you notice he still goes ahead and pursues it, somehow.
Hanks: It's for him, that's, well, yeah. That's where it, suddenly it becomes really dangerous then, it becomes so important that he has to take all this time, in order to make it happen, and yet he's still gotta come clean sooner or later and how do you do that, I mean yeah. It's not until he actually connects the tactile aspect of shop girl along with the actual --
Ryan: The idea.
Hanks: You know the heart and soul that he's been able to figure out from talking to her on the computer.