jakub | February 21, 2024

‘When Harry Met Sally…’ director reveals movie’s original downbeat ending

The director of When Harry Met Sally… has revealed that the film was originally supposed to conclude with a much more emotionally downbeat ending.

Rob Reiner, who also helmed This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride and Stand By Me, has revealed the reason for the last-minute switch to the classic 1989 romcom’s finale in a new podcast interview.

During an appearance on CNN’s Who’s Talking with Chris Wallace, Reiner disclosed that the original script, which was written by the late Nora Ephron, did not see Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) getting hitched at the end.

Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal
Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal on April 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

“I had been married for 10 years,” said Reiner. “I had been single for 10 years, and I couldn’t figure out how I was ever going to be with anybody, and that gave birth to When Harry Met Sally…

“I hadn’t met anybody, and so it was going to be the two of them seeing each other after years, talking, and then walking away from each other,” he continued.

Reiner had been married to fellow film director Penny Marshall (Big, Awakenings) from 1971 to 1981, but had been single for several years before making this film.

In the end, the film concluded with Harry running towards Sally at a New Year’s Eve party and spilling out his love for her. Reiner says that if he hadn’t met his wife-to-be Michele Singer Reiner on the set of the film, though, this ending would never have materialised.

“I met her while we were making the film, and I changed the ending,” he explained.

Several actors are said to have been considered for the role of Harry, including Albert Brooks, Michael Keaton, Harrison FordBill Murray, and Richard Dreyfuss.

To add to the list, last year, Tom Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson revealed that Hanks turned down the role of Harry in the film. He had been approached Ephron, but turned the role down because he said he could not relate to the idea of a character being depressed after his divorce.

Hanks had recently divorced his first wife Samantha Lewes at the time.

“People probably don’t know this, but Tom was offered when Harry Met Sally and he turned it down because he was going through a divorce and he was very happy to be not married,” Wilson said.

She continued, “And so he could not understand that a person going through a divorce would have anything other than just like, ‘I’m so happy’. But I loved that script.”

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