‘You’ve Got Mail’: Behind-the-Scenes Facts About the Classic Romantic Comedy Movie and Its Cast

You’ve Got Mail is an iconic Nora Ephron rom-com. Starring none other than chemistry icons Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, the Ephron-directed film was first released in 1998. Watching the movie brings waves of nostalgia: the AOL dial-up tone alone is a blast from the past. Ephron’s writing and lovely soundtrack choices sweep you back to the bygone era of email, when the best words one could hear when opening up your computer were: “you’ve got mail.” Below we’ve collected some of our favorite tidbits about the film and its cast members.

You've Got Mail
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a scene from You’ve Got Mail | Getty Images

‘You’ve Got Mail’: it’s all about the timing

According to IMDb, the moment Kathleen Kelly (played by actress Meg Ryan) arrives at Riverside Park to meet Joe Fox (a.k.a. Tom Hanks), it is exactly one hour and fifty-two minutes into the movie. Fox’s screenname in You’ve Got Mail is NY152.

Cast member Tom Hanks has something in common with the character of Frank

Frank, Kathleen’s boyfriend in the movie, is a huge typewriter aficionado. He collects them and writes about them in his Observer column.

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks attends the You’ve Got Mail New York City Premiere | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The actor Tom Hanks collects typewriters in real life, and even wrote a book of short stories about them.

Nora Ephron does more than just reference ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in the movie

Kathleen’s favorite book in You’ve Got Mail is Pride and Prejudice. She encourages Joe to read it, and it’s what on the table when she plans to meet him in person the first time.

The film itself “could arguably be a modern re-telling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” according to IMDb. With Joe as Mr. Darcy and Kathleen as Elizabeth; the couple starts off disliking each other, with completely opposite viewpoints. Kathleen is determined to hate Joe Fox, much like Elizabeth is Mr. Darcy, because of his pride. But as they continue to meet up, they fall in love.

Hanks has a thing for caviar

In a memorable scene of You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks’ character scoops up a bunch of caviar.

“That caviar is a garnish!” Kathleen remarks. He follows that up by scooping the remaining caviar off the plate. In Hanks’ 1988 movie Big, his character tries caviar at a party. However, in Big, he spits it out, clearly hating it.

You've Got Mail actors
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan attend the You’ve Got Mail New York City Premiere in 1998 Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

One of Hanks’ funniest quotes was not in the original ‘You’ve Got Mail’ script

In the scene where Joe and his family visit Kathleen’s bookstore, he leaves and accidentally closes the door on the balloons he’s carrying. This was a real mistake that Hanks made, and his next line was improvised.

“Good thing it wasn’t the fish,” he jokes, unscripted. Ephron liked it enough to keep it in You’ve Got Mail.

Ephron’s use of soundtrack is incredible

Ephron’s use of song is what makes her movies so great and unique to her voice. She often used the soundtrack to emphasize different plot points and self-reference. When Kathleen and Joe meet at the end, we hear the song “Over the Rainbow” playing over the happy reunion. Ryan and Hanks share a scene with the same song in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle.

Meg Ryan worked at a real shop around the corner to prepare for ‘You’ve Got Mail’

Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan | EVAN AGOSTINI / GAMMA LIAISON

Before the start of filming, the director had You’ve Got Mail stars Meg Ryan and Heather Burns work as cashiers for a short time period in a real New York City bookstore. Books of Wonder in Manhattan employed the actresses so they could better prepare for their roles.

‘You’ve Got Mail’ is actually a remake of a 1940 movie

The Ephron film is actually a remake of the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner, which starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The main characters in that film were employees at a leather shop in Budapest, Hungary.