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When Harry Met Sally director reveals movie’s original heartbreaking ending

Director Rob Reiner credited his wife of 35 years for influencing him to change the ending

Inga Parkel
Monday 19 February 2024 18:08 GMT
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When Harry Met Sally - trailer

When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner had originally written his timeless rom-com to end on a more somber note.

The acclaimed filmmaker and actor, 76, was speaking on a recent episode of CNN’s Who’s Talking with Chris Wallace podcast when he revealed the initial ending he had planned for his 1989 classic.

“The original ending of the film that we had was that Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) didn’t get together,” Reiner explained.

“I had been married for 10 years, 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.”

Reiner was married to the late director Penny Marshall (A League of Their Own) from 1971 to 1981.

“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 added.

As many fans will remember, the movie’s finale saw Harry sprinting to the New Year’s Eve party Sally was at. There, he professed his love for Sally in an impassioned speech.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (Shutterstock)

But this conclusion might not have happened if Reiner hadn’t met his wife, actor Michele Singer Reiner, when he did.

“I met her while we were making the film, and I changed the ending,” the Stand By Me director told CNN’s Chris Wallace.

Reiner has been married to his wife Michele for 35 years. The pair got married in 1989.

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

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It was previously revealed that several other actors were considered to play the leads before Crystal and Ryan were attached.

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.

Meanwhile, a few female actors were approached for the role of Sally Albright before Ryan, one of them being Susan Dey, who starred in the TV series The Partridge Family.

Elizabeth Perkins (Sharp Objects), Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles) were also considered for the role. Ringwaled was, in fact, very nearly cast; it’s unknown why she failed to secure the role.

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