Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts' career beginnings -- We look at the stars before they became icons, in ''Punch'' and ''Mystic Pizza''

By Jeff Jensen
December 14, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Mystic Pizza

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Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts’ career beginnings

Iran-contra was still scandalizing the nation, George W. Bush’s dad was elected president, and two actors began their journey to pop icon status.

Tom goes for the Punch

Hanks was coming off a series of misfires (The Man With One Red Shoe, Volunteers, The Money Pit) and one modest hit that wasn’t really his (Dan Aykroyd’s Dragnet). All that changed on June 3 with the opening of Big, the man-boy comedy that earned Hanks his first Oscar nomination, not to mention his first $100 million blockbuster. (His reported salary: $2 million.) But the movie that truly changed his image opened on Sept. 30: Punchline, in which he played a self-destructive stand-up comedian opposite Sally Field. The film, which grossed $21 million, was anything but big. But Punchline showed Hanks’ range and set the stage for the dramas that would define him in the decade to come. ”There’s a scene where I make this really feeble romantic play for Sally’s character, which I think is some of the best work I’ve ever done,” Hanks said in 2001. ”I’m still astounded by it.”

Julia delivers Mystic Pizza

At the beginning of 1988, Roberts was an aspiring starlet hoping for a big break — and she got one. Well, two, actually, if you count Satisfaction, the girl-band flop starring Justine Bateman that opened on Feb. 12. On Oct. 21 (just as Punchline was falling flat at the box office), Roberts headlined an acclaimed dramedy, Mystic Pizza, which earned her a Best Actress nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. (Her reported salary: $50,000.) Hollywood took notice. One year later, Roberts earned her first Oscar nod with Steel Magnolias. The year after that: Pretty Woman. Later, Roberts would recall: ”The first time I truly felt famous was when I went to the movies with my mom. I had gone to the loo, and someone in the bathroom said in a very loud voice, ‘Girl in stall No. 1, were you in Mystic Pizza? ‘ I paused and I said, ‘Yeah, that was me.”’

Mystic Pizza

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