When Harry Met... Molly Ringwald? 11 Things You Didn't Know About The Rom-Com Classic
Like many female, pop-culture loving writers, I was devastated when, back in 2012, I heard the news that Nora Ephron had passed away. The filmmaker had been an idol of mine, a hysterically funny, whip-smart, wonderfully relatable writer/director who'd been responsible for some of the best romantic comedies of the last few decades. Everything she touched turned to gold; Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia are films I can watch over and over again, never tiring of the fast-paced dialogue or the New York settings. Yet of all the many Nora Ephron films I've come to know and love over the years, one of them has affected me more deeply than any other: When Harry Met Sally .
I might not have been born yet when When Harry Met Sally actually arrived in theaters 25 years ago this July, but ever since I first watched it back in ninth grade, it's been one of my all-time favorite movies. The chemistry between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, Ephron's perfect, honest script, and of course, that incredible, iconic deli scene — there's a reason the movie's considered one of the best films, comedy or not, of the 20th century. In honor of its anniversary, 11 things you didn't know about When Harry Met Sally:
It's Based on the Friendship Between Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal
Ephron has said that she got inspiration for the script from the friendship between Reiner, the film's director, and its star, Billy Crystal. For instance, Reiner and Crystal called each other up in the middle of the night when a particularly good movie was on TV, just as Harry and Sally did for Casablanca. Whether they eventually developed feelings for each other, though, is unknown.
Those Old Couple Love Stories Were Real
To distract herself from writing, Ephron would spend time interviewing people who worked for the film's production company about their lives, and some of those exact stories ended up being the "real love stories" featured in the movie, just reshot with actors.
Meg Ryan Needed a Little Help During The Deli Scene
Sally's famous fake orgasm may have looked, um, natural, but it actually took a lot of effort to get it right — including some assistance from Rob Reiner. To demonstrate to Ryan what he wanted from the scene, the director sat down across from Crystal and acted out the whole routine with enough passion that Crystal joked that it made him a little excited.
And Rob Reiner's Mother Played a Pivotal Role
That woman who tells the waitress, "I'll have what she's having," after watching Sally seemingly have an orgasm? None other than Estelle Reiner, otherwise known as Rob Reiner's mother. Talk about awkward.
Harry and Sally Almost Didn't End Up Together
In the original script, the two of them remained friends, instead of reuniting at the end and eventually getting married. Although Ephron and Reiner felt that this was the more realistic outcome, they realized that it would be more satisfying if Harry and Sally got together, and so the script was changed to feature the happy ending viewers know so well today.
When Harry Met Sally Wasn't the Original Title
The filmmakers had so much trouble coming up with a title for the movie that Reiner made it into a contest with the crew — whoever came up with the title won a case of champagne. Some options: How They Met; Boy Meets Girl; Blue Moon; It Had To Be You. Even when the final title was chosen, though, Ephron wasn't happy, and later said that if she could go back and change it to something different, she would.
Sally Was Almost Played by Molly Ringwald
In addition to the '80s teen queen, Susan Dey, Elizabeth Perkins, and Elizabeth McGovern were also considered for the part that eventually went to Meg Ryan. Ryan only won it after she managed to convince Reiner that she was right for the role. As for Harry, he was almost played by Al Brooks, which, looking back, kind of makes sense.
Not All Critics Liked the Movie
Today, When Harry Met Sally is considered a rom-com classic, but back in 1989, some reviews were less favorable. From The Orlando Sentinel : "the relationship between Harry and Sally is simply incomprehensible." From The New York Times : "often funny but amazingly hollow." And from Variety : "the only thing that’s unpredictable about the story is how long it takes Harry and Sally to realize they’re perfect for each other."
Sally's Picky Eating Came From Nora Ephron
After Reiner watched Ephron order her food in a weirdly precise way, they were inspired to add it into the film, including Ephron's defensive line that became Sally's: "I just like it the way I like it." Even better? Years later, Ephron ordered something specific on a plane, and the flight attendant asked, "have you ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally?"
There was a Play Based on the Movie
In 2004. Starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan. Needless to say, reviews were not good.
Rob Reiner Had His Own Rom-Com Ending
Before production began, the film's cinematographer, Barry Sonnerfeld, told Reiner that he knew a girl named Michele that he believed Reiner would marry. A few weeks later, Reiner ran into a girl who he was attracted to immediately, only to learn that she was the Michele in question. In 2014, they celebrated their 25th anniversary – just like Harry and Sally.
Images: Columbia (3)