Shades for days! That Thing You Do! was stacked with a couple of “newbies,” a hit soundtrack — and Tom Hanks. The 1996 musical comedy continues to be a fan-favorite nearly 25 years later, with the cast recently reuniting in April 2020 for a good cause.
Tom Everett Scott played Guy Patterson in the Hanks-directed movie, which followed a local Pennsylvania band that catapults to Beatles-like stardom once their first single makes its radio debut. The pivotal scene, which shows future band costumer Faye (Liv Tyler) running down the street and the musicians meeting at Guy’s family business to listen together, was actually “all shot in different pieces.”
“I think they shot the Liv and Ethan [Embry] part first where they run down the street, which I heard about from them after they filmed it, people saying it was funny and how it turned out great. And then my part is I’m in the store and I’m showing some appliances to somebody and then they run in,” Scott, 50, exclusively told Us Weekly. “And then the group seeing the shot of us holding hands and going in the circle, that was something that Tom Hanks said, ‘Guys, this is what I want you to do. I want you to hold hands and go around in a circle. And before you roll your eyes, and before you groan because you can’t believe I’m actually asking you to do this, I just want you to try it because it is what I imagined they do.’ And we’re like, ‘No, of course. We’re not rolling our eyes, Mr. Hanks. We love you. You’re a genius.’ And so no, of course we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
The fictional 1960s band also included Johnathon Schaech (lead singer Jimmy) and Steve Zahn (Lenny). After Lenny, naturally, kisses a cardboard cut-out to celebrate, Guy pans to the camera.
“That was a really, really, really fun scene to shoot. And when it culminates at the end and I turn to the camera and say, ‘I am Spartacus,’ I think that there was one take of that, and that’s it. Then they were like, ‘Wow, great, perfect. We don’t need to do another one of those.’ It was kind of perfect,” Scott told Us. “There’s people out there who love to shout that at me from their cars.”
After signing with Play-Tone Records and teaming with manager Mr. White (Hanks), the fictional 1960s band The Wonders — previously The Oneders — began to climb the Billboard charts and sell out stadiums.
“There was about two months of learning the instruments and playing together as a band before we even started filming. So, we really got to a point where we were very comfortable with the music and very comfortable with each other. And then we got to film it,” Scott explained. “And with just Tom Hanks being one of the greatest actors of all time being our director, I think was like, OK, nothing will ever compare.”
Charlize Theron in That Thing You Do!
Hanks’ extra guidance on set also stood out to the Sister of the Groom actor. “I loved that he would pull me aside every once in a while, and just say the most incredible stuff to me. He saw that I was overwhelmed by what was going on the first week of shooting. And he pulled me aside and he said, ‘You’re just a cog in a machine. Just worry about knowing your lines, be on time. All these other people, they’re taking care of the rest of it. You just do your part.’ Such good advice. It’s the advice I live by now,” Scott told Us.
The Oscar winner would again pull him aside after filming the Shrimp Shack Shooters scene, in which The Wonders performed on a TV show. “Tom was directing his wife, Rita [Wilson], for the first time, and he really wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing when he and I had been working together for months, you know? And so that was her first day on set. So, I don’t know where he stopped paying so much attention to me, and here I’m playing this drunk. And so he came up to me later when we did the beach scene, that was after that,” he recalled. “They came back from lunch because they watched dailies at lunch. I had the sailor suit on and everything, and he said, ‘Just watched the dailies from Blue Spot where you meet Del [Paxton].’ I said, ‘Yeah?’ He goes, ’It was great. Played a great three-martini drunk. I really wasn’t paying attention to you on the day because Rita was there and I was focused on her. You were great.’ I just loved that.”
Hanks also played a role in casting newcomer Charlize Theron in the film. In January 2020, she’d go on to thank Hanks for giving her a shot before handing him the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 77th annual Golden Globe awards.
“I think it was maybe her second movie. I think it was my first. We were all just newbies. She’s great. We had a lot of fun working together,” Scott said of Theron, 45, who played his love interest, Tina. “I’ve seen her a few times over the years. She was a wonderful person. Really, everybody involved with that was super sweet. Love working with Liv. I mean, for me, it’s kind of hard to really put into words the experience. It was paralleling my experience with filming, being an actor and Guy’s experience with being a musician and just going right to the top. It was a whirlwind. There were so many wonderful moments. There was the great scene in the bar with Rita and meeting Del Paxton. I mean, I feel like I got to play a three-martini drunk and meet my idol. And I think that all just kind of came together.”
When the film wrapped, Scott didn’t take Guy’s go-to shades, but he did receive a gift from Hanks. “I didn’t get any of the shades. I should’ve gotten the shades. Why didn’t I get the shades?” he said to Us. “I got to keep the drums, which was really nice because Tom Hanks is the menschiest mensch in the world. He’s a wonderful man, and his gift to me when we wrapped was the actual drum kit, which was just incredibly sweet.”
Last year, The Wonders — Scott, Embry, 42, Schaech, 51, and Zahn, 53, reunited via Zoom for a watch party of the film to raise money for MusiCares’ Covid-19 Relief Fund. They also paid tribute to late Fountains of Wayne musician Adam Schlesinger, who wrote and composed the title song “That Thing You Do.”
“Oh, man, it was so great. I love those guys. We’ve all stayed friends over the years, we’ve been really tight. So when the pandemic started and we wanted to do something because Adam had died of COVID, it just all made sense,” Scott told Us. “It was such a wonderful experience for all of us to be able to watch the movie together and tell some stories.”
Scott has especially stayed close with Zahn over the years. “My daughter Arly was born a month after his son Henry was born. They lived in New Jersey and we lived in New York City and we would see them almost every weekend. I mean, we’ve been very close with the Zahns. Me and my wife [Jenny Gallagher], we’ve been very close to Steve and Robyn [Peterman] for ages since that movie. That’s where we met. He was my best man. She was my wife’s matron of honor,” he said. “We’ve zoomed with them and Facetimed with them during this pandemic and stuff. They live in Kentucky now. I mean, we’re thousands of miles apart, but we’re still really tight. Jonathan and I talk, texts or something, routinely. Ethan I don’t stay in as much touch with, but we still are good friends. He’s like my little brother, and we do text every once in a while. Usually something that makes me laugh until I pee my pants because Ethan’s the funniest person in the world. So we got to do the reunion, which was nice. It’s like a family.”