“I’ll have what she’s having.” Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal created romantic-comedy perfection in When Harry Met Sally — and viewers are still falling in love with their performances today.
The Rob Reiner-directed film follows Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan) from the time they meet in Chicago through more than a decade of friendship and missed connections. Written by the late Nora Ephron, the movie raked in more than $92.8 million in the U.S. when it hit theaters in July 1989. The movie’s box office success came as a surprise to Crystal, who figured summer blockbusters such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman would have them beat.
When Harry Met Sally wasn’t just a fan favorite. The movie was widely praised by critics, earning Ephron an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nod for her impressive screenplay. According to Crystal, however, the script went through some major changes to get to its now-iconic final version.
“The script totally changed from what we had agreed to do,” the Emmy winner said at the TCM Classic film festival in April 2019 in honor of the flick’s 30th anniversary. “It kept growing and growing and growing. You had the guy point of view, and then you had Nora and Meg, throwing everything in it together, and that’s why I think it’s such a powerful screenplay.”
Working on the ‘80s comedy was a collaborative process and the finishing touches weren’t put on the production until the very last minute. Crystal recalled that one of the movie’s most memorable scenes — Sally’s fake orgasm at Katz’s Delicatessen — wasn’t written until two weeks before filming began.
“We were in a meeting, and Nora said, ‘I need something. There’s something missing,’” the City Slickers actor told The Hollywood Reporter in April 2019. “There’s the moment where Harry’s now been screwing around. He’s in revenge mode, and he’s this cocky little stud. … Meg said, ‘I should have an orgasm! That would be hilarious.’ And I went, ‘In a public place, like a restaurant.’ Nora goes wild.”
The infamous scene still sends viewers into stitches — but Ryan’s son, Jack Quaid, hesitated to see what all the hype was about.
“I saw When Harry Met Sally for the first time recently,” Jack, whose father is Dennis Quaid, told Entertainment Weekly in October 2018. “When your mother has one of the most famous orgasm scenes of all time, you do not jump to the film, OK?”
Once he finally watched it, the movie became an instant favorite. “Afterwards I cried for so long because I was so proud of her,” he gushed. “I immediately called her, and I’m like, ‘I’m so sorry I missed this movie.’ She’s like, ‘I’ve seen it like one time.’”
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