Revisiting the Glorious 1998 Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks Interview on 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show'
This December marks the 25th anniversary of You've Got Mail, the charming Nora Ephron rom-com that paired Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks on the big screen for the third time. (See: 1989's Joe vs. The Volcano and 1993's Sleepless in Seattle.) And twenty-five years ago, the two actors made a stop on their press tour to promote Mail on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, the blockbuster daytime talk show that ran for six seasons, leaving an impact on a generation of viewers, myself included – but that's a pop cultural discussion for another time.
Rosie has been active on YouTube, uploading clips of interviews and performances from her Emmy-winning show, including recently lost stars (R.I.P. Sinead O'Connor) and guests who have also recently appeared on her excellent new podcast, Onward with Rosie O'Donnell, a series of one-on-one conversations with longtime celebrity pals and other well-known names who are making a positive impact on American culture.
But her latest YouTube upload, the aforementioned interview with the stars of You've Got Mail, is thirty-two glorious minutes of 1998 nostalgia, a charming snapshot of an era long gone. Take note of my five takeaways:
1. The interview starts with Meg Ryan swapping stories with Rosie about their young sons. The talk show host, who adopted her son Parker in 1995, recalls his interaction with Ryan's six-year-old son Jack and the boys' mutual obsession with Batman. The actress then whips out a tape recorder to play for Rosie (and the audience) a random audio clip of an original song about...Godzilla...written and performed by young Jack. It is an insanely adorable moment that is surreal to watch in 2023. Why? Because that six-year-old boy heard on the tape is now 31-year-old actor Jack Quaid of The Boys, Scream, and Oppenheimer fame.
2. Meg and Rosie then discuss the wonders of a new phenomenon: online shopping. Back in 1998, plenty of Americans still visited malls and brick-and-mortar shops, so buying a book from a website like Amazon.com was considered a high-tech alternative. Spending money in cyberspace? Gah!
3. Tom Hanks is up next, sitting in between Rosie and his leading lady. Here he reveals that he has never been online until he was cast in You've Got Mail, sharing one embarrassing experience in a chat room (remember those?)...and the truth behind the rumors about him running for office, which is quickly dismissed with laughter because what celebrity would ever run for President of the United States?
4. Enter Parker Posey, who plays Tom's girlfriend in the movie. Rosie gets her to chat about the differences between big studio movies and the independent films she's mostly known for. One big differentiation: the money, of course. And in what has to be the first peek into celebrity swag culture on television, Parker talks about the lavish gifts she received from the studio
5. And then there's Greg Kinnear, fresh off his Oscar nod for As Good As It Gets, who gets relegated to the final five minutes of the show during which he declares that "breaking up with Meg Ryan is the toughest thing I've ever had to do." Oh, and yeah, he used to be a late-night host on NBC!