Where is the cast of Sleepless in Seattle as the film celebrates its 30th anniversary?
- Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, both 66, play siblings, but are married in real life
- Meg Ryan, 61, went from queen of rom-coms to being embroiled in scandal
- Child actor Ross Malinger, 38, left Hollywood to become a car salesman
Sleepless In Seattle has been tugging at the heartstrings of fans for the last 30 years.
The film written and directed by Nora Ephron – the mastermind behind When Harry Met Sally (1989), You’ve Got Mail (1998) and Julie & Julia (2009) – is still hailed as one of the best rom-coms of all times.
The 1993 flick follows Sam (Tom Hanks) who becomes a single dad after his wife passes away.
When his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger), calls into a radio station for advice on how to help his ‘sad’ dad, Sam, who is dubbed Sleepless In Seattle, is forced to get on the air and woos America with his touching story.
Annie (Meg Ryan), a journalist from Baltimore, can’t helped but be moved by Sam’s story.
Even though she’s engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman), she writes him a letter proposing that they meet on the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
While these actors were at the height of their careers when the film released 30 years ago, plenty has changed.
For instance, Ryan – once famously dubbed as the queen of rom-coms – left her life in the limelight behind after a torrid affair with Russell Crowe during her marriage to Dennis Quaid and the failure of her 2003 thriller In The Cut.
She has also made headlines over the years for her drastic changes in appearance, sparking cosmetic surgery rumors.
Child star Malinger also left acting behind to pursue a life as a salesman.
Meanwhile, Hanks and wife Rita Wilson – who also starred in Sleepless In Seattle – are still married and are Hollywood A-listers, who have consistently booked work over the past 30 years.
Pullman and Rosie O’Donnell – who played Annie’s best friend Becky – have also found their own niches in Hollywood.
Here’s what the cast of Sleepless In Seattle have been up to over the years as the film celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Tom Hanks has admitted to being a difficult actor throughout his lengthy career
Hanks, 66, has had no problem climbing the ranks of stardom and he may have Sleepless In Seattle to partially thank.
In the following years after the rom-com’s success, he landed some of his biggest gigs including Forrest Gump (1994), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Castaway (2000).
He also worked with Ephron and his Sleepless In Seattle co-star Ryan in You’ve Got Mail (1998).
Interestingly enough though, he actually first had the opportunity to work with Ephron and Ryan four years prior to Sleepless In Seattle, but turned it down.
Hanks was initially offered the lead role in Ephron’s 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally.
However, his wife of 35 years – Rita Wilson – revealed that he ‘turned it down’ because he ‘could not understand’ why the main character was sad about his divorce.
‘People probably don’t know this, but Tom was offered When Harry Met Sally, and he turned it down because he was going through a divorce and he was very happy to be not married,’ Wilson said on the Table For Two With Bruce Bozzi podcast.
‘And so he could not understand that a person going through a divorce would have anything other than just like, “I’m so happy.”‘
The divorce she was referring to was his split with Samantha Lewes in 1987.
She was best known for her appearances in Bosom Buddies in 1981 and her role in Mr. Success (1984).
The two also share son Colin Lewes Hanks.
Not long after his split with Lewes, he found love with Wilson.
The two discovered their feelings for each other while playing love interests in the film Volunteers in 1985.
‘Rita and I just looked at each other and — kaboing — that was that,’ he told GQ of their chemistry.
‘I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her, and it just couldn’t be denied.’
The two then made their official red carpet debut in 1986. While he and Lewes weren’t divorced yet, they were broken up at that point.
A year later came his divorce and a year after that came his and Wilson’s wedding.
‘The success of our relationship was a matter of timing, maturity and our willingness to have an intimate connection,’ Hanks told Oprah Winfrey at the time in 1988.
‘When I married Rita, I thought, “This is going to require some change on my part.”
‘I won’t deny that providence was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn’t magic — the way it’s shown in movies.
‘In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here. Not that marriage doesn’t come close to being hell in a handbasket sometimes.
‘But we both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other — and we’ll get through it.’
Three years later, they welcomed their first son together, Chester ‘Chet’ Hanks, in 1990.
Then he would play a father on the big screen in Sleepless In Seattle. Hanks admitted he was especially cranky while making the film and that part of the reason was how his character was portrayed as a father.
‘I was very cranky, particularly when I first met her to do Sleepless In Seattle, because I was really big and, you know, I had some hits under my belt,’ he told The New Yorker.
‘We got together, and we were going to make this movie about a guy and a kid and a la di da di da — Sleepless In Seattle. And she was very intimidating, right off the bat.
‘When we were working on the rehearsals for it, I realized that one of the things that was driving me nuts about the project is that Nora and Delia Ephron, who helped on the screenplay, are — sisters, but they are also mothers.
‘It was a movie about a father. And I said, “You guys are the wrong gender to understand what’s going on in this scene between me and my son.”‘
Thankfully, Ephron agreed and took his notes into consideration making the film a collaborative process.
He and Wilson welcomed their second son, Truman Theodore Hanks, in 1995.
The duo continued to work, even acting together in Hanks’s 1996 film That Thing You Do! – which he also wrote and directed.
‘I loved making that movie. I loved writing it, I loved being with it. I love all the people in it,’ he told The New Yorker in June.
Even though it wasn’t super successful at the time, Hanks noted the irony of it becoming a ‘cult classic.’
‘When it came out, it was completely dismissed by the first wave of vox populi. It didn’t do great business,’ he said.
‘It hung around for a while, was viewed as being some sort of odd, kinda quasi-ripoff of nine other different movies and a nice little stroll down memory lane.
‘Now the same exact publications that dismissed it in their initial review called it Tom Hanks’s cult classic, That Thing You Do! So now it’s a cult classic.
‘What was the difference between those two things? The answer is time.’
He continued to work consistently throughout the 2000s and 2010s in films like The Da Vinci Code (2006), Saving Mr. Banks (2013) and Sully (2016). In fact, he amassed a whopping 44 credits during that time.
However, he admitted that he isn’t necessarily a fan of all of those projects.
‘Let’s admit this: We all have seen movies that we hate. I have been in some movies that I hate. You have seen some of my movies and you hate them,’ he told The New Yorker.
He has also admitted to being a diva on set over the years. In fact, he compared himself to the problematic actor character in his 2023 novel The Making of Another Major Motion Picture.
‘I have pulled every single one of those moments of behavior myself on a set,’ he told BBC.
He continued: ‘Not everybody is at their best every single day on a motion picture set.
‘I’ve had tough days trying to be a professional when my life has been falling apart in more ways than one and the requirement for me that day is to be funny, charming and loving – and it’s the last way I feel.’
In addition to his newly released novel, his most recent project entailed working with Wes Anderson for the first time on Asteroid City.
Even though Hanks admitted to acting like a diva on set in the past, Anderson had nothing but positive things to say about working with him.
‘[Hanks is] the kind of person where he’s going to make everything work better and more smoothly. He’s going to do things to help you make the movie,’ he told IndieWire.
‘Then also Rita, his wife, came with him and she’s in the movie. Their enthusiasm helps make everything better.
‘And on top of that, they have a son who works on our movies too now, and stayed on with us after Asteroid City.’
Meg Ryan’s career plummeted after her affair with Russell Crowe and flop In The Cut
Ryan, 61, was at an all-time career high when Sleepless In Seattle hit theaters. She would go on to star in hit films like When A Man Loves A Woman (1994) and City Of Angels (1998).
She would also return for her third Ephron film, You’ve Got Mail (1998), alongside Hanks after When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Sleepless In Seattle.
While Hanks may have thought he was difficult to work with in Sleepless In Seattle, Ryan seemingly thought otherwise – especially since she chose to work with him again.
‘He’s just so easy,’ Ryan said of Hanks in a new interview with Sleepless producer Gary Foster. ‘He listens; he roots for other people.’
‘[Hanks] doesn’t like there to be drama. I feel the same way.
‘We’re just really there to have fun, this is supposed to be a creative experience and there’s no reason to get heavy.’
Despite her to desire to avoid drama, her career was heavily impacted by a scandal she was involved with in the early 2000s.
She met Dennis Quaid while filming Innerspace (1987). The two tied the knot in 1991 and welcomed their son, Jack, into the world a year later.
Even though their marriage lasted for 10 years, it wasn’t without controversy. Quaid admitted he struggled with jealousy over the success of her career during that time.
The two also got embroiled with infidelity. Ryan said he wasn’t faithful to her ‘for a long time’ and continued to find out about more affairs once they divorced in 2001.
Ryan infamously cheated on him with her Proof Of Life co-star Russell Crowe.
Her reputation became tarnished in the public eye and admitted she felt like ‘the Scarlet Woman.’
‘I found myself in a hotel lobby in London a few months ago thinking, all of a sudden, “So this is what it feels like to be the Scarlet Woman,”‘ she told W Magazine in 2000.
‘This thing happened, and I was all over the tabloids, and I walked through the lobby, and the place stopped.
‘People stopped talking and stared at me. And then I got to the elevator, and instead of falling apart and going, “Ooh,” I just started laughing.
‘This thing that people are so afraid of all the time — public censure or disapproval — has no power if you know yourself.’
Even though they got divorced a year later, Ryan insisted that the affair didn’t end their marriage.
‘[My marriage] dissolved before it became sport for the press. The public and the press tuned in way after,’ she told the outlet.
She further elaborated on the matter eight years later in 2008 and explained why she couldn’t date Crowe after the fact.
‘I think he took a big hit. But Russell didn’t break up the marriage,’ she told InStyle.
‘He was definitely there at the end, but it wasn’t his fault. I was a mess. I hurt him, too, at the end.
‘I couldn’t be in another long relationship; it wasn’t the time for that. So I got out.’
Her controversial affair wasn’t the only component in her downfall. Her career took a nose dive after her 2003 erotic thriller In The Cut was panned by critics.
Upon reflecting on the issue, Ryan seems to be at peace with the film’s devastating impact on her career.
‘I think the feeling with Hollywood was mutual,’ she told The New York Times in 2019. ‘I felt done when they felt done, probably.’
The former actress felt ‘burnt out’ and admitted that becoming an actress was never a lifelong dream of hers.
‘I felt in a crazy way that, as an actor, I was burning through life experiences,’ she told the outlet.
‘I was burned out. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.’
Even though she felt burnt out by the time In The Cut hit the big screen, she continued to take on small roles in TV shows and movies including Serious Moonlight, Fan Girl and Ithaca.
Ryan directed the 2015 film Ithaca in addition to starring in it. She was very appreciative of Hanks for signing on and enjoyed the opportunity to work with him once again.
‘He’s just so dear. He so did not have to do that,’ Ryan told EW about how Hanks came to help. ‘It took him a day to [shoot his scene].’
‘At the end of his time, he says to the crew, “All right, gather ’round. Listen, I know we’ve gotten to know each other very well over the last 10 hours together, but I just want to thank you for being here for my friend Meg.”
‘It was such an act of friendship. I love him so much.’
During that time, she also dated rock star John Mellencamp on and off.
They dated from 2011 to 2014 before calling it quits. They got back together in 2017 – even getting engaged this time – but didn’t last longer than two years and split in 2019.
While Ryan has made mistakes in relationships in the past, Mellencamp admits he’s the one who fumbled the ball in their relationship.
‘I love Meg Ryan. I went with her for 10 years,’ the rock star told Esquire. ‘She doesn’t love me so much. She’s a great girl. I’m just a s***ty boyfriend.’
She also made headlines over her drastic change in appearance, sparking cosmetic surgery rumors, in 2013.
Plastic surgeon Mark Youssef weighed in during an 2016 interview with HollywoodLife, claiming, ‘She may have done too much’ and that she ‘doesn’t look like the Meg Ryan that we all love.’
‘The most obvious thing that she’s had done is some sort of filler or fat transfer to her cheek,’ he explained.
He added: ‘It’s definitely too much because the apple of her cheek is too full and too large. When she smiles, all of that filler moves up and makes her eyes look smaller.
‘The reason she looks masculine is because of the placement of the volume in her cheeks. The volume of the filler should have been placed more laterally to give her a softer look.’
Ryan addressed the speculation in a 2015 interview with Porter magazine, saying: ‘There are more important conversations than how women look and how they are ageing.
‘We get stuck in these conversations about looks and hair color and our roots. It’s interesting and funny for five minutes, but it’s not that interesting.’
The actress insisted that she didn’t let the ‘haters’ get to her, and actually found it unbelievable how many people wasted their time judging others.
‘There’s a lot of hatred in the world today — it’s so easy to judge,’ she said. ‘Imagine being a hater, how stupid!’
After all the controversy, Ryan still hasn’t returned to the big screen. Her last credit listed on IMDB was being narrator for podcast series Cut And Run in 2020.
Child star Ross Malinger left the industry to become a car salesman
Malinger, 38, starred in Sleepless In Seattle when he was just eight years old. He played Sam’s adorable son, Noah, who helps bring him together with Ryan’s character.
However, Malinger almost didn’t star in the film at all. Another child actor named Nathan Watt was initially cast as Noah. However, Hanks was easily annoyed by Watt.
‘I was an extremely cranky actor at that time. Coming in and saying, “Why does the kid have so many good lines?” he admitted in the novel, I’ll Have What She’s Having.
‘I had made enough movies to get smoked on a couple of occasions as well as thinking that I was a big shot and “My voice must be heard.”‘
A producer contributed to the story, implying Hanks got Watt fired over a habit that particularly annoyed him.
‘Tom is being driven crazy and this boy keeps repeating dialog off-camera when Tom’s trying to film a scene and he’s not adding to the film right now,’ the producer said.
Shortly after that, Watt was replaced by Malinger.
After Sleepless In Seattle, the child actor went on to do voiceover work for the kids animated TV series Recess and starred in Sudden Death (1995), Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher (1996-1997) and Personally Yours (2000).
In his teenage years, he also made cameos in Touched By an Angel. The actor went for his associate’s degree in sales and distributing from 2002 to 2004.
He also started working at Honda in college and ended up working his way up to internet director by 2009.
Aside from a cameo in the TV series Without A Trace (2006), he retired from acting to focus on a career in sales.
He worked as a senior executive of vendor recruiting in sales at financial institution TimePayment from 2009 to 2017.
Malinger was married in 2011, and after eight years with wife Kelsey, she filed for divorce, according to TMZ.
He now works at Keyes Automotive Group as a sales manager, where he has been for the past four years.
Rita Wilson had a breast cancer scare, but overcame it to continue a successful acting and producing career
In Sleepless In Seattle, Wilson played Sam’s brother Suzy. However, she initially was aiming for another part.
When she ran into Ephron at a party, she asked the filmmaker if she could audition for the role of best friend Becky.
On the Table For Two With Bruce Bozzi podcast, the actress said she went in for an audition, but ‘didn’t get the part.’
‘They gave it to Rosie [O’Donnell]. But Nora offered me the role of Suzy, this other character. And I was like, “Oh yeah, that was a really good part of the script. I really like that character. There was a big monologue in there,”‘ she explained.
Wilson, 66, added that the role ended up being ‘one of the most fun, most wonderful acting experiences I’ve ever had.’
Ironically, she and Hanks played siblings when they were already married for five years.
The couple is still going strong with 35 years together. It’s no surprise considering how strong of a first impression Hanks made on her when they met on the set of Bosom Buddies in 1981.
‘One of the things, when we met, was that we just got along instantly,’ Wilson said on The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2020.
‘First of all, I love a good storyteller. So anybody who could tell a good story, I’m down with that. I love that. He makes me laugh all the time. He’s a great storyteller.’
After Sleepless In Seattle, Wilson continued to book work as an actress, starring in Hanks’s film That Thing You Do! (1996), Runaway Bride (1999), Beautiful Ohio (2006) It’s Complicated (2009) and Dawn Patrol (2014).
She even acted in Ephron’s film Mixed Nuts (1994) a year after Sleepless.
She also found immense success as a producer. She produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) and Mamma Mia! (2008), both successful franchises.
She did step away from Hollywood for a bit to raise their two kids, Chet and Truman.
‘I slowed down my work because I really wanted to be the mom that was there when they got home, drove the carpool and did all those things,’ she told People.
She explained that she stayed home because ‘Tom was also working a lot, so we would travel with him. If both of us were working and not home, my kids would have been affected.’
However, she remarked: ‘I wouldn’t call slowing down my career a sacrifice, I would call it a choice.’
Over the years, her marriage only grew stronger. In 2012, she gave Piers Morgan an example of how they kept their spark alive.
‘I’ll never forget, we were standing on the corner of 57th and 5th in New York, or 58th and 5th,’ Wilson said of her husband.
‘We were holding hands, and we were waiting for the traffic light to change. And he looked at me and he said, “You know, I just want you to know, that you never have to change anything about who you are in order to be with me.”
‘Literally, a wave of — if love is a feeling, or a cellular thing that happens to your body — it went through me, and that’s pretty much who he is, and how he’s been.’
Their love helped her get through one of the toughest times in her life.
Wilson revealed to People in 2015 that she had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstruction after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was extremely grateful for her husband’s support throughout the process.
She told The New York Times: ‘You never know how your spouse is going to react in a situation like this. I was so amazed, so blown away by the care my husband gave me … who knew it would make you even closer?’
At the time, she was working on the Broadway production Fish In The Dark, penned by Larry David.
During the same interview in The New York Times, the actress recalled how the play’s directior Scott Rudin made her feel ‘worthless, unvaluable and replaceable’ after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Thankfully, the surgery was successful and she has gone on to continue working in Hollywood.
Most recently, she produced A Simple Wedding (2018), which she also acted in, and her husband’s film A Man Called Otto (2022). She also starred in this year’s Asteroid City.
She has also worked on her music career. The country music artist has released four albums over the years including AM/FM (2012), Rita Wilson (2016), Bigger Picture (2018) and Halfway To Home (2019).
Bill Pullman has a cattle ranch, expanded his acting career and watched son Lewis follow in his footsteps
Pullman played Annie’s unfortunate fiance Walter whom Annie eventually ends up leaving due to her fascination with Sam.
Up until this point of his career, Pullman jokingly labeled his type as ‘the guy who loses the girl.’ This unfortunate circumstance happened to his character not only in Sleepless but in A League Of Their Own (1992) and While You Were Sleeping (1995).
Thankfully, not long after Sleepless, he began to broaden his range of roles.
He landed his most notable role in Independence Day (1996) and also starred in Lake Placid (1999), Scary Movie 4 (2006) and The Equalizer (2014).
The actor often laments about how long it took him to get his big break on the big screen after a lengthy career in theater, starring in his first film at 32.
‘The term “late bloomer” sounds awfully like loser, but I guess it’s what I am,’ he told The Guardian.
‘It sounds to me like a politically correct term for: “You’re stupid. Why did you take so long?”‘
Nonetheless, after he got started, he hasn’t stopped. The actor has had a lengthy career in Hollywood, still acting four decades later.
Most recently, he has reprised some of his past roles in Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) and The Equalizer 2 (2018).
He also signed on to his first long-running TV gig The Sinner, which ran from 2017 to 2021.
‘I was really scared signing up for it. I admire actors who find joy in doing eight or nine seasons of the same thing, but my mind is too crazy,’ he admitted to the outlet.
‘I thought I’d wither on the vine. But the showrunner Derek Simonds was great and we would talk before every season about where the story would go. So I never did get bored.’
All in all, he is thankful for the range of roles he has played in his lengthy career.
Pullman told the outlet he enjoys when strangers say ‘I really like you in.…’
‘I have no idea whether they’re going to say Casper or Spaceballs or The Sinner,’ he explained.
‘To have that variety in my work makes me feel lucky. I always wanted to be the vessel, where I could get possessed by something.’
On top of acting, he owns a cattle ranch with his brother in Montana.
While he used to be involved with the grunt work when he would visit with his family in the summers, he now mostly focuses on infrastructure.
All throughout this time, he has been happily married to Tamara Hurwitz. The two tied the knot in 1987 and share three kids – Lewis, Jack and Maesa.
In fact, his eldest son, Lewis, also caught the acting bug and was in Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick (2022).
Lewis has opened up about how much he looks up to his father as an actor.
‘My dad has just a plethora of good advice, but one that he’s adamant about is subverting expectations,’ Lewis told POPSUGAR.
‘[My father] always thinks, “What is the obvious way to do this [role]?” And then, “What is the opposite way?” And then, “How can I justify that?” And it always ends up being remarkably interesting.
‘Sometimes I’m like, “I can’t figure out how to justify it.” And he always has some really creative ways in, and that’s been really helpful for me.’
Rosie O’Donnell hit her career peak in the 90s, but isn’t ashamed of her on-and-off career
After starring in A League Of Their Own with Hanks and Pullman, O’Donnell joined them again in Sleepless In Seattle playing Annie’s best friend Becky.
O’Donnell was undeniably grateful for the opportunity.
‘I was very lucky when I got cast [in Sleepless In Seattle] and met Nora Ephron, who changed my life in so many ways for the better,’ she told Vulture.
‘We became close friends, and I lived in the same building that she did. She got me the apartment. So when I think of [Seattle], the first thing I think of is Nora.’
She also learned later on that Ephron had cast her so that she ‘would do for Sleepless In Seattle what Whoopi Goldberg did for Ghost.’
All in all, she did ‘the best she could’ and revealed that she channeled Bette Midler in her portrayal of Becky.
While connecting with Ephron, she formed an equally strong bond with Ryan.
‘It was totally like high-school girlfriends right away. We talked about our families, and we had some similar chaotic childhood stuff that we related to each other and bonded over,’ she told the outlet.
‘I loved her right away. She’s really a great woman. She’s very smart and adorable and funny and interested.
‘The reason America fell in love with her is the same reason I fell in love with her. She’s easy to love.’
After Sleepless In Seattle, O’Donnell starred in hit kid films like The Flintstones (1994) and Harriet The Spy (1996) and leant her voice to Tarzan (1999).
She had her own talk show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, from 1996 to 2002 in which she played something of a caricature of herself. She also had an on-and-off hosting gig with The View.
Unfortunately, the actress struggled to get work after The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
‘By the time I left my show in 2002, I was very well-known as that character. I think it would have been hard to cast me in a role in a movie,’ she said.
‘I always knew as an actress that when I got into my 60s I would be playing the Geraldine Page roles. I wasn’t going to have plastic surgery.
‘I was going to look the way a woman my age should look, and I always thought that would be a blessing in my older age.
‘I would get to play the Colleen Dewhurst roles. That has turned out to be true. I’m getting all this acting work now that I’m closing in on 60.’
O’Donnell was OK with this fact though, admitting that ‘the wave of fame eventually hits the shore. And then it goes back out, but it’s never as strong as the first wave.’
She added she was grateful for the ebbs as well as the flows of her career.
‘I wanted to spend time with my children and get to be the mother that my mother never got to be, having died at 39,’ she shared.
‘I think I’ve always been lucky to have a balance of the importance of real life and the illusionary place of Hollywood.’