When Harry Met Sally…, the 1989 romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, is full of memorable quotes, most of them written by none other than screenwriter Nora Ephron. However, one of the most iconic lines from the movie was completely improvised by Crystal.
‘When Harry Met Sally…’ cast member Billy Crystal improvised this legendary quote
When the director of When Harry Met Sally..., Rob Reiner, spoke to Entertainment Weekly in 2019, he discussed that famous scene from Katz’s Delicatessen — although he also acknowledged there’s not much he could add to the conversation.
“Billy came up with the movie’s most famous line,” EW reported. That line, of course, being: “I’ll have what she’s having” — which he says directly after Ryan’s very loud and public “faking it” moment. It’s probably the most-quoted piece of dialogue from the 1989 movie.
However, Ryan wasn’t as comfortable as Crystal in that scene.
“… for the first couple of times, she wasn’t as committed as she was when we eventually got it,” Reiner told EW. “She did it half-hearted the first few times. I kept saying, ‘No, you’ve got to really go after it. You’ve got to do it full-out.’”
The When Harry Met Sally... director said the You’ve Got Mail actor was “nervous,” which is very understandable.
“In front of extras and the crew and everything, and you’re having to pretend to have an orgasm in front of everybody!” Reiner recalled.
This quote in the New Year’s Eve scene was also not in the script
In one of the last scenes of the rom-com, Harry and Sally meet up on New Year’s Eve. While most of the lines were written, Crystal ad-libbed his own quote in the scene, when he’s talking about why he loves Sally.
“I love the way your nose crinkles,” Harry says at the New Year’s Eve party.
Another scene the cast improvised
The “baby talk” scene in the film is also “largely improvised,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
That’s the part of the movie where Harry and Sally play a game with a new couple. In trying to guess what Sally is drawing, one of their guests yells, “Baby Fishmouth!”
The When Harry Met Sally… filmmaker says he gave Ryan a lot of space in terms of how she wanted to play that scene — which EW claims was the “key to the sequence.”
“I [told Ryan], ‘Do whatever you want to do,’” Reiner explained. “There was nothing in the script; we just asked her, ‘How would you convey ’baby talk?’ … It’s so perfectly unclear!”
The movie is currently streaming on HBO Max, and available to rent on other digital platforms.