Already have an account?
Get back to the

‘When Harry Met Sally’ Director Says His Own Single Status Almost Changed the Movie’s Ending

2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Opening Night Gala And 30th Anniversary Screening Of "When Harry Met Sally" - Arrivals, Meg Ryan Billy Crystal
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner’s personal life almost sparked a different — and much more heartbreaking — ending for the romantic comedy.

“I’d been married for 10 years,” Reiner, 76, shared on the Friday, February 16, episode of Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace. “I’d been single for 10 years, and I couldn’t figure out how I was ever going to be with anybody. That gave birth to When Harry Met Sally.”

Reiner revealed he “hadn’t met anyone new” following his divorce from Penny Marshall in 1981, causing him to almost tweak the story so the title characters didn’t have a happy ending. “It was going to be the two of them seeing each other after years, talking, and then walking away from each other,” he explained.

Luckily, Reiner met now-wife Michele Singer. The pair tied the knot in 1989, the same year When Harry Met Sally hit theaters, and they now share three children: Jake, born in 1991, Nick, born in 1993, and Romy, born in 1997. (Reiner also shares daughter Tracy, born in 1964, with Marshall.)

'When Harry Met Sally' Cast: Where Are They Now?

Related: 'When Harry Met Sally' Cast: Where Are They Now?

New love was all Reiner needed to change the trajectory of the story. “I met [Michele] while we were making the film, and I changed the ending,” he said, crediting Singer for the “tearjerker” ending.

When Harry Met Sally, written by Nora Ephron, follows longtime college acquaintances Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) through decades of their lives as they debate whether or not men and women can be just friends. After years of back and forth, the final moments of the film see Harry running to a New Year’s Eve party to find Sally and confess his love before midnight. The couple share a kiss, and the final scene reveals that they married three months later.

Upon its release, the movie became both a critical and box-office success and is often revered as one of the best rom-coms of all time. In May 2019, Reiner confessed making the movie felt like a gamble at the time.

“You never know. You make a movie, and hopefully you like it, and hopefully other people [do too]. You have no idea if it will stand the test of time, and it’s kind of cool that it did,” he said, crediting When Harry Met Sally’s universal themes for its staying power. “I think that there are some basic truths about men and women that people connect with, and those kind of things — that dance, that weird dance that men and women do with one another kind of is basic and kind of there all of the time.”

2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Opening Night Gala And 30th Anniversary Screening Of "When Harry Met Sally" - Arrivals, Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Of course, the ending isn’t all When Harry Met Sally is known for. The famous scene in which Sally and Harry grab lunch at Katz’s Deli — a Lower East Side staple in New York City — and Sally performs her best fake orgasm to demonstrate just how easy it is for women to fake sexual pleasure, has become an iconic moment in cinema.

It also Ryan’s children an endless amount of mortification. Last year, the actress told Interview magazine that her kids — son Jack Quaid, whom she shares with ex-husband Dennis Quaid, and daughter Daisy, whom she adopted in 2006 — experience a “very unique type of embarrassment” when faced with the NSFW moment.

Jack, meanwhile, revealed in 2019 that he waited as long as possible to watch the film — but found himself regretting it after witnessing his mom’s performance.

Best Rom-Coms to Watch When You’re Stuck at Home

Related: Best Rom-Coms to Watch When You’re Stuck at Home

“When you’re a kid and your mom has one of the most famous orgasm scenes of all time, you tend to [avoid it]” he shared during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “But I was doing a rom-com and I was like, ‘OK, I have to watch the rom-com, I was alone, I finished it and I immediately started to cry because I was so proud of her.”

Jack said he was instantly forgiven, as Ryan confessed she’d only seen the movie once herself.

“I [couldn’t believe it],” he said. “If I was in the movie, it would be, like, an hour and a half long GIF constantly running. I would never stop watching it.”

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!