This week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, That Thing You Do!, which was written and co-starred Tom Hanks.
The 1996 feel-good comedy, which told the story of the rise and fall of a fictional 1960s one-hit wonder pop band, was also the directorial debut for Hanks.
Ahead of the anniversary, Hanks opened up about about the process of writing, casting, and then shooting the movie that caught the musical spirit of 1964 though the fictional Erie, Pennsylvania rock band, the Wonders.
And while discussing the casting, the actor and director shared about the lasting impression, a then unknown actress, Charlize Theron, left following her initial audition.
25th anniversary: Tom Hanks opened up about about the process of writing, casting, and shooting That Thing You Do! ahead of the 25th anniversary of its release
High praise: In an interview with Ringer, Hanks shared about the lasting impression, a then unknown actress, Charlize Theron left following her initial audition for the comedy film
Theron, who was just 19-years-old when she read for the film, would end up with the role of Tina Powers, the girlfriend of Guy ‘Shades’ Patterson, the Wonders’ drummer, who was played by Tom Everett Scott.
While reminiscing during an interview with Ringer, Hanks, 65, revealed that Theron had ‘read on the very first day’ he was auditioning actors,’ and that she knew exactly who she wanted to play.
‘She said, “Listen, I know I can play Tina, but I want to play Faye.” I said, “I get that,” but what I was thinking in my head was, “You’re too much of a supernova to play Faye.”‘
While Theron didn’t get the role of Jimmy’s girlfriend Faye Dolan, which would eventually go to Liv Tyler, she more than caught the eye and attention of Hanks and the casting crew with her talent, movie star looks, and personality.
Nostalgic: The 1996 feel-good comedy, which told the story of the rise and fall of a fictional 1960s one-hit wonder pop band, was the directorial debut for Hanks
‘Casting her [Theron] was such a coup,’ Hanks, who played Mr. Amos White in the movie, admitted.
Producer Ed Saxon added that after she read for a role, Hanks told him that ‘we just met a movie star.’
‘She was smart, glamorous, and had a phenomenal sense of humor, and when she said the words, you were like, “there’s a whole character there,”‘ Saxon added.
That Thing You Do! was Theron’s second project in her career, which has since seen her soar to become an A-list, three time Oscar-nominated actress. She won the Best Actress award for her role in the biographical crime drama film Monster (2004).
While Hanks heaped praise on the South African native, now 46, her recollection of the audition was far different.
‘It was not good! I don’t know why he gave me the role, I mean, honestly,’ she said during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in 2018, as reported by Entertainment Tonight.
Blown away: ‘We just met a movie star,’ Hanks said in one of his first impressions of Theron after she auditioned for the film when she was just 19-years-old
Eye on different role: Theron played Tina Powers, but she actually wanted the role of Jimmy’s girlfriend Faye Dolan, which would eventually go to Liv Tyler
‘I was so nervous. Imagine you’re 19 and you meet this idol. I idolized him,’ she added in a reference to Hanks, adding, ‘I watched Turner and Hooch like 500 times. So to audition for somebody like that, it’s frightening.’
Hanks and his team would go on to capture dynamite performances and put a comedic, primary-colored spin on a musical tale that has been told many times over.
Along with Hanks, Theron, Scott and Tyler, the film also starred Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Bill Cobbs, Giovanni Ribisi, Obba Babatundé, Alex Rocco, Chris Isaak, Larry Antonino and Holmes Osbourne, among others.
While the movie didn’t break the bank at the box office, grossing $34.6 million on a $26 million budget, the soundtrack album was a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The title song, which ended up getting nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, hit #41 on the Billboard Hot 100, #22 on the Adult Contemporary charts, #18 on the Adult Top 40.
Musical hit: While the movie didn’t break the bank at the box office, grossing $34.6 million on a $26 million budget, the soundtrack album was a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in 1996