‘Sleepless In Seattle’: 11 Surprising Facts About This Romantic Movie

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

You really can’t go wrong with popping in any of writer and director Nora Ephron’s fantastic rom-coms, especially those she made with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, one of film’s most delightful duos.

Nora helmed two of the three films the acting pair have made together, beginning with 1993’s classic Sleepless in Seattle.

The movie is unique from other romantic comedies in that Tom and Meg hardly spend any time on screen together, despite the plot revolving around their budding relationship. However, I had no idea just how little time that was until I read the info behind #4 below!

After that discovery, I couldn’t stop digging into even more fascinating facts about Sleepless in Seattle.

Take a look to see if there’s anything you missed while watching the beloved romantic comedy from back in the day.

Let us know in the comments if we forgot your favorite behind-the-scenes fact, and be sure to SHARE with your friends!

[H/T: IMDb]

1. Tom Initially Turned Down The Role

Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle

Tom felt he wasn’t the right man for the lead role after reading the original script. Of course, this was before Nora and her team took over to rewrite it.

He was eventually convinced by the revised version, which featured a part that was more serious than the characters he’d played in earlier films.

2. Tom And Victor Garber Improvised Their Tears

Tom Hanks and Victor Garber in Sleepless in Seattle

In the scene where Rita Wilson’s character is reduced to tears by describing the plot of An Affair to Remember, the men poke fun at her by pretending to become emotional as they discuss the much less romantic film, Dirty Dozen.

This wasn’t scripted, though. The actors just riffed off each other, likely inspiring Rita’s more realistic put-upon reaction.

3. The Director Is The Voice Behind "Disappointed In Denver"

Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle

Nora Ephron, who earned her first directorial hit with the film, stepped up for the woeful role calling into the radio show Annie listens to in her kitchen in the middle of the night.

4. The Main Characters Barely Spend Time On Screen Together

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle

With the plot of the film obviously keeping them on opposite ends of the country (Annie in Baltimore and Sam in Seattle), Meg and Tom only spend a total of roughly two minutes together in the same screen.

5. David Hyde Pierce Got Practice For His Next Gig

David Hyde Pierce

As Dennis in the film, David gets into a psychoanalytical conversation about romance with Annie and comments on the fact that it rains nine months out of the year in Seattle.

Later that same year, he would co-star as psychiatrist Niles Crane on the TV series Frasier, which is also set in the rainy West Coast city.

6. They Didn't Really Meet At The Empire State Building

Sleepless in Seattle

The climactic moment Sam and Annie finally meet on top of the New York City tourist attraction was actually filmed on a very convincing set built in an airline hangar in Seattle.

7. Parker Posey Was Cut Out Of The Final Version

Parker Posey in Dazed and Confused

The actress was set to make her Hollywood film debut in a short scene, which was unfortunately left on the cutting-room floor. Luckily, she was still able to make her debut that same year in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, shown above.

Nora was also kind enough to reach out to her and explain that it wasn’t Parker’s fault. She later cast her in a much larger role in the film You’ve Got Mail, which also starred Tom and Meg.

8. They Reference A "Seinfeld" Character Before The Show Did

Soup Nazi from Seinfeld

Two years before the “Soup Nazi” became an iconic character on the sitcom, a writer in Annie’s office mentions the real NYC-based soup chef who was just as notorious for his temper as “the meanest guy in the world, but he makes the best soup you’ve ever eaten.”

9. The Box Of Chocolates Sneakily Features Meg And Tom

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

The subtle image is easy to overlook, but a silhouetted couple appears on the box of chocolates in the store near Annie’s house. The image is actually of Meg and Tom, hinting at a happy ending for the fictional duo.

10. Nora Had A Personal Reason For Picking Seattle


As she explained to Rolling Stone magazine following the movie’s premiere, the writer and director felt that for the most part, young Americans in the early ’90s had become more obsessed with their careers than personal lives.

When she visited Seattle with her husband, though, Nora was struck by the community there and described it as “a city where people have chosen lifestyle over work.”

11. They Went To Great Lengths For Attention To Detail

Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle

In the scenes where you see Sam walking out of a door in Seattle followed by Annie walking out a door in Baltimore, you might have noticed the doors look similar.

That’s because it is literally the same door. The crew actually shipped it clear across the country for filming in Baltimore after wrapping the West Coast scene.

Did we miss your favorite thing about the romantic movie? Let us know below, and be sure to SHARE with your friends!