Rita Wilson Reveals Why Tom Hanks Turned Down 'When Harry Met Sally' Role

The role of Harry was famously played by Billy Crystal, who starred opposite Meg Ryan.

The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan rom-com that could've been!

Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, is revealing the reason Hanks turned down a role opposite Ryan in the 1989 hit, When Harry Met Sally. Appearing on Bruce Bozzi's iHeart Podcast, Table for Two With Bruce Bozzi on Tuesday, Wilson shared that Hanks was going through a divorce from his first wife, Samantha Lewes, at the time, and couldn't relate to Harry's storyline and his melancholic view over his wife Helen leaving him.

Hanks divorced Lewes in 1987 after nine years of marriage, and went on to marry Wilson in 1988. The pair have been together ever since, and share two children together, Chet, 32, and Truman, 27. Hanks has two other children from his marriage with Lewes, Colin, 45, and Elizabeth, 41.

"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 told Bozzi. "And so he could not understand that a person going through a divorce would have anything other than just like, 'I'm so happy.'"

Billy Crystal famously took on the role of Harry Burns in the film, opposite Ryan, who played Sally Albright. The late '80s hit sees Harry and Sally meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. Finally, a close friendship blossoms between them. While the pair enjoys having a friend of the opposite sex, they're confronted with the problem: "Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?"

The film has gone on to be a cult classic, with some of its most famous lines still quoted 34 years later. In March, Crystal celebrated his 75th birthday by recreating a shot from the film by wearing perhaps his most iconic look from the 1989 hit -- white sneakers, jeans, and a white cable-knit sweater. 

"Thank you all..." Crystal tweeted, alongside side-by-side images of the look.

Back in 2019, Crystal spoke with ET at the 30th anniversary of the Oscar-nominated film.

"For those of us who believe in happily ever after, that's where they are and that's where they should be," Crystal said of his and Ryan's fictional counterparts in When Harry Met Sally.

Hanks, meanwhile, would go on to cement his own place in rom-com history alongside Ryan, starring opposite the actress in two mega-hits of the '90s, 1993's Sleepless in Seattle and 1998's You've Got Mail.