When Harry Met Sally: Who was first choice to star over Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal?

The Valentine's Day must-watch almost looked very different

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 14 February 2020 11:03 GMT
When Harry Met Sally - trailer

It’s impossible to think of a version of When Harry Met Sally without Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

However, the classic film – which is considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time – almost looked very different considering the pair were not the first choices for the lead roles.

In the running to play Harry Burns before Crystal was Albert Brooks, who turned down the role because he thought the film was too similar to Woody Allen’s work.

Quite a few female stars were approached for the role of Sally Albright before Ryan.

One such person was Susan Dey who appeared in the TV series LA Law.

Director Rob Reiner also considered Elizabeth Perkins (Big), Elizabeth McGovern (Once Upon a Time In America) and even John Hughes’ leading star of choice, Molly Ringwald.

In fact, Ringwald was very nearly cast, but the reason why she failed to secure the role is unknown. Some reports say she dropped out due to a conflict in her schedule while others believe Ryan convinced Reiner to give her a shot.

When Harry Met Sally, written by Nora Ephron, follows the titular characters through a series of chance encounters over 12 years as they continually debate the question: "Can men and women ever just be friends?”

To this day, it’s considered one of the greatest romcoms of all time.

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