Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts' new movie, "Larry Crowne," is, in a nutshell, about a middle-aged man who, after constantly being looked over for managerial promotions at work due to his lack of college degree, enrolls himself in his local community college, where he finds himself being taught by and falling in love with the lovely Mercedes Tainot (Roberts).
When MTV News caught up with Hanks and Roberts at the press day for the film, we attempted to discuss Hanks' return to the director's chair after a 15-year hiatus (the last film he helmed was 1996's "That Thing You Do!"), but first the two superstars took a moment to talk about us.
"I miss VJs," Roberts lamented of MTV's onetime team of on-camera personalities.
"I miss VJs, too," Hanks agreed. "I miss, you know, 'The Rock Hour!' " he added, likely meaning "120 Minutes," hosted by Matt Pinfield, which has been resurrected over at MTV2.
"What's on MTV now?" Roberts asked.
"Pregnant teenagers," quipped Hanks.
Hanks and Roberts then briefly discussed MTV's current slate of programs, citing "The Real World," "Jersey Shore" and "16 and Pregnant," but admitted only to hearing stories about them, not to having watched any of those shows themselves.
Once we were able to bring the focus to the topic at hand, we asked Hanks about his return to the director's chair, and what inspired him to take on so many roles for this film — he directed, acted in, co-wrote and produced "Crowne."
"Somewhere I think in 2009 a switch just goes off in my head that goes, 'I really want to direct this,' " he recalled, equating his passion for the project to a fever he had to have cooked out of him. "It takes you out of the marketplace for a long time, which is fine. I have a lot of things going on, but it ends up being like this personal letter that you're writing to your mom where you want it to be right, you want it to be authentic, you want it to actually reflect who you are and where you are at this point, and so that's why you end up directing a movie and being in it."
For Roberts, signing on to the film was mostly about working with her good friend. She and Hanks worked together once before in "Charlie Wilson's War," which, according to Roberts, cemented their friendship for life.
"I knew I had a friend for the rest of my life," she said, recalling one specific day on the "Wilson's War" set that involved Hanks, Roberts and some joke with a little box. "He [makes] me want to live a longer life," she gushed.
"What a great answer!" Hanks said with a big smile.
"It's true, I love Tom. It's kind of retarded for us sitting here trying to be professionals because we're friends," she said. "I love his wife, I love his kids."
"This is what we'd be doing if we were sitting around or having lunch," Hanks added, speaking to the pair's easy rapport. "We'll laugh for three hours together."
Check out everything we've got on "Larry Crowne."
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