"Nora Ephron would never pass up a front-row seat at human folly, including her own," he said of his longtime friend, a witty and wise writer who died in June 2012 at age 71.
Her training as a journalist, Hanks observed, heavily influenced the way she thought about all her fictional writing.
"Nora's writing was about the world as witnessed by her. Everything was copy, but she was still her own editor," he said. "Collaborating with Nora meant you were one of her sources. She would ask you harmless questions and get you to talk."
"Her means of making a living made her living more fascinating," Hanks said.
As far as the ongoing struggle of women to balance their work and their personal lives, he said that Ephron considered the notion of having it all "a sweet fantasy."
"Nora Ephron said she did have it all -- but only once she married an Italian," Hanks quipped.
Ending his remembrances by sharing his favorite photograph of Nora -- one of her with her then-young sons in front of a Christmas tree -- Hanks teared up.
He closed, "There is Nora Ephron, about to get the story of her life, printed on page one."
Earlier this week, Hanks received a standing ovation for his role as real-life tabloid journalist Mike McAlary at the April 1 opening night of "Lucky Guy." According to the New York Post, Hanks struggled to hold back tears then as the cast paid tribute to Ephron.
"[S]elfishly, I did this [play] to hang out with Nora," Hanks told NPR.
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