‘When Harry Met Sally…’ Almost Didn’t Get That Big New Year’s Eve Ending

There are multiple movies that include a New Year’s Eve kiss. But one of the most iconic scenes is probably in When Harry Met Sally The director once explained why the movie almost ended very differently.

‘When Harry Met Sally…’ has a New Year’s Eve romantic ending

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The 1989 movie follows the friendship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) for years. Their romantic relationships would end, but they manage to maintain a friendship with each other. However, Harry does bring up the question whether men and women can be friends.

It all comes to a head on New Year’s Eve at a party. Harry tries to tell Sally he’s in love with her and at first she think’s he’s just lonely for the holiday.

“It’s not because I’m lonely and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve,” he tells her. “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” This part of the movie was improvised by Crystal.

“Stuff like ‘I love the way your nose crinkles’ — that was Billy — [and] the great line ‘When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,’” director Rob Reiner told Entertainment Weekly.

Sally is still pushing him away with her words, but Reiner thinks Ryan did a great job showing how her character really felt. “It doesn’t matter what she says because, if you turn the sound off, you can see Meg. She’s in love. She’s fallen in love, and she wants to be with him,” he said.

They almost didn’t end up together

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in 'When Harry Met Sally...'
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in ‘When Harry Met Sally…’ | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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The movie almost had a very different ending. Reiner told The A.V. Club that Harry and Sally almost went their separate ways instead.

“They did,” he said. “Because at that time, I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get with anybody, so I just had them walking in opposite directions at the end. And then I met the woman who became my wife during the making of the movie, and I changed the ending.”

That makes sense given Harry was based on him and Sally was based on writer Nora Ephron. “Before she came aboard, I was thinking about how I’d been single—I’d been married for 10 years and I’d been single for 10 years,” the director explained. “And during that time when I was single, I kept being in and out of different relationships, and they didn’t go so good. And I kept getting confused.”

Luckily, he did find someone and that influenced the movie’s story. Now we have one of the most iconic New Year’s Eve movie scenes.