Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have appeared in four films together, three of which are among the most beloved romantic comedies in Hollywood history. The two stars clearly have a unique chemistry, and the films they've starred in together quickly became cinema classics.
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
In Joe Versus the Volcano, Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) is a former firefighter who now lives a dreary life working a dead-end job with an awful boss. To make matters worse, he's always sick. A doctor finally diagnoses him with a "brain cloud," an apparently terminal disease, and Joe learns he has only months to live.
Enter Meg Ryan: When a wealthy businessman offers Joe unlimited luxurious living during his last days to travel to a tropical island and throw himself into a volcano to appease the angry native inhabitants and save the man's business venture on the island, Joe agrees. However, something unexpected happens along the way. He meets Patricia (Meg Ryan), the captain of the boat taking him to the island, and the pair fall in love.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Chicago architect Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) has just lost his wife Maggie to cancer, so he and his son Jonah move to Seattle to start a new life. But, as the title Sleepless in Seattle suggests, the grief still weighs heavily on them both. Their hearts are broken and restless.
Enter Meg Ryan: When Jonah convinces his father to talk on the phone to a national radio talk show host about his grief, Annie Reed (Ryan), a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, hears Sam and feels a strange connection to him. After viewing the classic film An Affair to Remember, she writes him a letter proposing the two meet on the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. Sam is unmoved by the letter, but Jonah hatches a plot to get his father to New York City.
You've Got Mail (1998)
In the 1998 film You've Got Mail, their third and final romantic comedy together, Hanks and Ryan take a cue from the newly birthed internet age. Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) is the owner of a small independent bookstore called The Shop Around the Corner (named after the 1940 Jimmy Stewart movie, upon which You've Got Mail is based). She's in a relationship with a workaholic named Frank, and she spends most of her free time on AOL chat rooms and checking her email.
Enter Tom Hanks: Joe Fox (Hanks) runs the big chain bookstore Fox Books, and he is opening a new mega-store around the corner from her little shop. When the two meet in person, Kathleen dislikes him because he is ruining her business, and she feels his store isn't dedicated to children's books in the way that her independent store is. Little do they know, though, the two rivals have already met in an anonymous AOL chat room where they are falling in love as they begin exchanging emails under pseudonyms.
17 years after You've Got Mail, Hanks and Ryan are reunited (if only briefly) on the big screen in Ithaca, but it is a very different kind of film. Ithaca is war-time drama set during World War II. Ryan is the movie's director. She also plays Kate Macauley, whose husband Matthew (Hanks) has just died fighting in the war.
Her son Marcus, played by Jack Quaid (who is her real-life son from her former marriage to Dennis Quaid), wants to be the fastest bicycling telegram deliver in the world. While delivering war-related messages, he struggles to care for his widowed mother and siblings, all the while hoping his older brother will return home from the war.
The Chemistry of Ryan and Hanks
It's strange how certain actors share a hard-to-describe chemistry when they're on screen together. As indicated by their body of work together, the pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is a perfect example of the movie magic that can be created with that kind of chemistry. Hopefully, their shared filmography will be more than these four features when all is said and done.