‘When Harry Met Sally’: 11 Surprising Things You Never Knew About This Romantic Comedy

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

I am a sucker for romantic comedies, and while it’s hard to pick just one favorite out of all the amazing options over the years, When Harry Met Sally… is definitely near the top of my list.

It’s just impossible to deny the hilarious chemistry between Meg Ryan as Sally and Billy Crystal as Harry! I’m not even sure how many times I’ve watched it. The plot is a perfect mixture of emotional tearjerker tension and witty dialogue between the delightful pair.

Despite all the times I’ve sat down with a big bowl of popcorn to enjoy the flick, I never thought to look into some of the fascinating behind-the-scenes facts listed below.

For instance, I had no idea how closely the film represented the writer and director — or that a blooper from Meg made it all the way to the final cut!

Take a look to learn even more about When Harry Met Sally… that you probably never noticed before, either.

And don’t forget to SHARE with your friends!

Thumbnail source: YouTube / Movieclips

1. The Cast Ad Libbed A Lot

When Harry Met Sally museum

Including the silly line while he and Meg Ryan are at a museum and he jokes around with saying, “But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie.”

You can see Meg looking off camera to director Rob Reiner who motioned for her to go with it.

They also got creative in the famous Katz’s Delicatessen scene, which was originally not meant to include Meg’s fake orgasm as the pair discuss their sex lives. She came up with the idea while they were rehearsing the scene and Billy suggested the older woman’s response, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

2. You Can Visit The Same Deli In NYC

When Harry Met Sally deli scene

Katz’s Delicatessen even has a sign helpfully pointing out the exact table where the filming took place: “Where Harry met Sally… hope you have what she had!”

3. Men Didn't Find The Deli Scene Funny

3. Men Didn't Find The Deli Scene Funny

Rob revealed that at a test screening, while all of the women in the audience found the famous moment highly entertaining and laughed a lot, all of the men were noticeably silent.

4. The Story Is Based On The Writer And Director

When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner

Well, everything except the part about falling in love. After divorcing his wife, Penny Marshall, Rob was back in the dating world and pitched the idea to writer Nora Ephron when they met in the 1980s.

After interviewing Rob about his experiences, she combined them with her own for the two main characters. Nora was also just as picky an eater as her fictional counterpart, Sally.

Rob’s real life friendship with Billy also provided inspiration for much of the dialogue, including their late-night movie-watching phone calls.

5. Rob Wanted Molly Ringwald To Play Sally

Molly Ringwald

When her busy schedule conflicted with filming, Meg began campaigning for the role and even left another iconic movie, Steel Magnolias, to eventually accept the role.

Molly would later play Sally in the 2004 stage production of the film in London.

6. The Split-Screen Scenes Were An Homage To "Pillow Talk"

When Harry Met Sally phone call

The 1959 film starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson included several similar scenes where the characters were talking on the phone while both taking a bath or lounging in bed.

However, back then it was done to cleverly comply with the strict Hays Code of morality on film which did not allow unmarried men and women to perform such actions in the same room together.

7. Nora And Rob Prove The Film's Thesis Is Wrong

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

The whole plot, discussed at length by Harry and Sally, hinges on the question of whether or not men and women can really be close platonic friends without romance getting in the way on one side or the other.

Of course, Nora and Rob already answered that question with their own platonic friendship.

That said, the actors didn’t quite agree when asked about it, with Meg answering, “Yes, men and women can just be friends. I have a lot of platonic friends, and sex doesn’t get in the way,” and Billy admitting it can be difficult because, “Men basically act like stray dogs in front of a supermarket.”

8. Harry Predicts Rob's Next Film Project

Kathy Bates in Misery

You can see Harry reading Stephen King’s Misery, using his trademark method of reading the end of the book first. Rob’s next film was an adaptation of the novel.

9. Nora Hated The Title

When Harry Met Sally writer Nora Ephron

She and Rob struggled with nailing down the perfect title, going through potential options like: Playing Melancholy Baby, Boy Meets Girl, Blue Moon, Words of Love, How They Met, and Harry, This Is Sally. 

The final decision was made when Rob held a contest with the cast and crew, but Nora said it was the one thing she would go back and change about the film if she could.

10. The Locations Emphasized How Oblivious The Characters Were

When Harry Met Sally Central Park scene

Rob and the producers purposely chose some of New York City’s most breathtaking and beautiful locations for the film in order to highlight just how unobservant Harry and Sally were to their surroundings — and their growing love for each other.

11. Nora Didn't Want Harry And Sally To End Up Together

Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

The writer felt it was a more realistic ending for them to remain apart, and the script originally had Harry and Sally maintaining a friendship rather than romance.

It was Rob’s own flourishing love life with photographer Michele Singer that blossomed while filming which helped him to convince Nora to have them end up married.

Did we miss any of your favorite facts behind this classic romcom? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!