Rita Wilson knew she wanted to bring the two Latino characters, played by Manuel Garcia Rulfo and Mariana Trevino, from “A Man Called Otto” into her song “Till You’re Home.” She fell in love with the vocals of Sebastián Yatra, who sang the Oscar-nominated “Dos Oruguitas” from Disney’s “Encanto” (2021). He had one day off and happened to be in Los Angeles, giving him one day to record the track. “We were incredibly lucky that he said yes,” says Wilson.
The actor, producer, singer and songwriter will enter the awards conversation for best original song for the upcoming Sony Pictures feature film, which stars her husband, Tom Hanks, and is directed by Marc Forster.
The track marks Wilson’s third eligible original song, which began with “Even More Mine” from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” (2016) and “Everybody Cries” from “The Outpost” (2020), but this isn’t her first dabbles in the music world. “Marc Forster asked me to write a song for the movie that would play over these specific scenes in the film,” she tells Variety. “I wanted to make sure that the song was evocative.”
The song is personal to Wilson, reminding her of something a friend had told her following her father’s death: “The conversation continues.” That phrase always stuck in her mind.
She co-wrote the track with David Hodges, a two-time Grammy nominee for best rock song (“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence, shared with Amy Lee and Ben Moody in 2004) and best country song (“Dear Hate” by Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill, shared with Morris and Tom Douglas in 2019). In the film world, Hodges co-wrote “There’s a Place for Us” from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010), which was nominated for a Golden Globe. Hodges has also co-written popular numbers such as “A Thousand Years” with Christina Perri, from the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart vampire love story “Twilight” (2008).
“A lot of the inspiration began with David Magee’s script,” Wilson says. “It was a natural beginning to start there. This movie is about love and how love continues even after a person leaves this earth.”
Magee, who adapts from the novel by Fredrik Backman, has been nominated for two Oscars for adapted screenplay — Forster’s “Finding Neverland” (2004) and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” (2012).
When Forster asked Wilson to record the song, having been familiar with her previous albums, she was humbled by the opportunity but made him promise to be honest with her if he didn’t want to use the final song. Also a producer on the film, Wilson says her first allegiance is to the movie and the director’s creative vision. “You can’t be precious about it or take anything personally,” she says.
Already off to a good start, the song was nominated by the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for best song (independent). Wilson and Hodges will face off against “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman,” “This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “We Two Made One” from “The Silent Twins” and “Stand the Test of Time” from “Tomorrow’s Game.”
“A Man Called Otto” will open in select theaters on Christmas Day.
To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.
Listen to the clip of the song “Til You’re Home” below.