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Rita Wilson Explains What Really Happened in That Dramatic Photo From Cannes

Photo Credit: Antonin Thullier/ AFP/ Getty Images/ Cropped
Photo Credit: Antonin Thullier/ AFP/ Getty Images/ Cropped

Anyone who watched the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May 2023 would have seen an intriguing altercation between a well-loved actor and a festival employee. Caught on camera by the photographers in attendance, Tom Hanks looked like he was giving the employee a piece of his mind. Hanks’ finger point was splashed all over the internet, leading people to wonder what happened that prompted such a reaction. Rita Wilson eventually spoke out, giving everyone the desperately desired answer.

76th Cannes Film Festival

The so-called altercation occurred at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, an annual event where movies from all over the world are debuted to a star-studded crowd. The first festival took place in 1946 and has been invitation-only ever since, explaining why the biggest names in Hollywood are in attendance. Since the building opened in 1982, it is most commonly held at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés.

Rita Wilson, in a sparkling black dress, and Tom Hanks, in a black suit, pose for a photo together.
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks attend the Asteroid City red carpet during the 76th Cannes Film Festival, May 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images)

There are no limitations on the kinds of movies that can be presented, allowing everything from intense dramas to documentaries to be shown. Restrictions were, however, put in place in 2017 which meant that only films that were going to be released in theaters could be shown at the festival. This automatically knocked out major streaming services like Netflix from entering.

Astroid City

Hanks and Wilson were in attendance at Cannes for the screening of his new movie Astroid City. Directed by Wes Anderson, the cast includes Jason Schwartzman as Augie Steenbeck, Scarlett Johansson as Midge Campbell, and Hanks as Stanley Zak. It’s set in 1955 and follows the antics of parents and their children as they take part in a junior stargazer convention in a small desert town.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson appear to be yelling and gesturing at a man in a suit on the red carpet.
Tom Hanks (center) and Rita Wilson speak with a staff member as they arrive for the screening of Asteroid City during the 76th Cannes Film Festival, May 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: Antonin Thuillier/ AFP/ Getty Images)

It was incredibly well received at Cannes, earning an incredible six-minute standing ovation when the credits rolled. One critic called it “Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson movie yet,” while another said it’s “the most poignant thing he’s ever made.” Needless to say, Astroid City went over very well. Yet it was an occurrence before the screening that captured more press attention than the success of the film.

A far-from-heated exchange

Wilson said, however, that this exchange wasn’t at all what it looked like. The man Hanks was ‘scolding’ was identified as Vincent Chapalain, a supposed PR manager for the festival. Wilson took to her Instagram, sharing one of the unflattering photos of her husband as well as an explanation of what actually happened. She said, “This is called ‘I can’t hear you. People are screaming. What did you say? Where are we supposed to go?'”

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson appear to be yelling and gesturing at a man in a suit on the red carpet.
Tom Hanks (left) and Rita Wilson speak with a staff member as they arrive for the screening of Asteroid City during the 76th Cannes Film Festival, May 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: Valery Hache/ AFP/ Getty Images)

It sounds like Hanks wasn’t arguing at all, he just couldn’t hear what was going on over all the noise. Even Chapalain cleared things up on Twitter.

When someone asked what happened, he said, “They just asked me if they should go back to the start of the mat with the rest of the film crew.” Hanks’ fans can sleep easy at night knowing he is still, indeed, one of the nicest men in Hollywood.

A historic feud

Although his Cannes moment might have been misread, Hanks did, in fact, have a real Hollywood feud with Happy Days actor Henry Winkler. The pair worked on the set of Turner and Hooch in 1989, where tensions eventually boiled over. Winkler had been hired to direct the production, while Hanks was cast as Detective Scott Turner. 

Tom Hanks in a suit sits holding the leash of a large dog.
Tom Hanks as Detective Scott Turner alongside his on-screen dog Hooch in a promotional shot for Turner and Hooch. (Photo Credit: Bane/ Touchstone Pictures/ MovieStillsDB)

It’s unclear what exactly went down on set, other than “creative differences” between the two, but Winkler was fired after only 13 days. Director Ron Howard broke it down as “just one of those unfortunate things where they really had a working style that did not fit.” Supposedly, it was thanks to Hanks that Winkler was removed from his role on set.

Water under the bridge

Although this has never been confirmed, it’s the rumor that persists. Winkler summed up the experience, recalling, “Let’s just say I got along better with Hooch than I did with Turner.” However, in a 2020 interview, a friend of both actors, Howard, said that after about 30 years, the pair have finally moved on from their feud, something that Winkler seems to agree with.

Tom Hanks in a karate uniform stands ready to fight Henry Winkler wearing a suit jacket with the sleeves ripped off in a scene from 'Happy Days.'
Tom Hanks and Henry Winkler acting alongside each other in the Happy Days episode, “A Little Case of Revenge,” 1982. (Photo Credit: ABC Photo Archives/ Disney General Entertainment Content/ Getty Images)

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He said, “I don’t have a feud with Tom Hanks. What everybody says and what is true are two different things.” In the past, Winkler had made comments stating the opposite, which he now says were “just fun.” Hanks, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have commented.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.