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

In a recent interview with Chris Wallace on February 16, 2024, director Rob Reiner opened up about how his own life experiences almost led to a different, more poignant ending for the iconic romantic comedy, “When Harry Met Sally.”

Having been married for a decade, Reiner found himself single for the next ten years, struggling to envision a future relationship. This personal struggle became the inspiration behind the film’s narrative. Reflecting on this period, Reiner explained, “I’d been married for 10 years, and then 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.”

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‘When Harry Met Sally’ Director Says His Own Single Status Almost Changed the Movie’s Ending 3

Following his divorce from Penny Marshall in 1981, Reiner admitted that he hadn’t encountered anyone new, contemplating altering the story to deny the title characters a happy ending. He envisioned a conclusion where they reunite after years, share a conversation, and then part ways.

However, a stroke of luck intervened as Reiner met Michele Singer, who later became his wife. They tied the knot in 1989, the same year the film was released, and now have three children together: Jake (born in 1991), Nick (born in 1993), and Romy (born in 1997). Reiner also shares a daughter, Tracy (born in 1964), with Penny Marshall.

Reiner credited Michele Singer with being the catalyst for a heartwarming ending to the film. He shared, “I met [Michele] while we were making the film, and I changed the ending,” describing her influence on the conclusion as a “tearjerker.”

“When Harry Met Sally,” penned by Nora Ephron, traces the lives of Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) over decades as they debate the possibility of platonic friendship between men and women. The film culminates in a memorable New Year’s Eve scene where Harry rushes to confess his love to Sally before midnight, leading to a kiss and a revelation that they got married three months later.

Despite initial uncertainties, the movie became both a critical and commercial triumph upon its release. In May 2019, Reiner acknowledged the uncertainty during its creation, attributing the film’s enduring success to its universal themes about the intricate dance between men and women.

Apart from its heartwarming conclusion, “When Harry Met Sally” is also remembered for the iconic scene at Katz’s Deli in New York City, where Sally performs a fake orgasm. This moment has become a cinematic hallmark. Meg Ryan’s children, Jack Quaid and Daisy have experienced a unique embarrassment, with Jack confessing he avoided watching the film for as long as possible but ultimately felt immense pride after doing so.

The film’s legacy endures, with Reiner expressing his surprise at its timeless appeal, highlighting the basic truths about relationships that continue to resonate with audiences.

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