How Nora Ephron ‘Saved a Romantic Comedy’ with fractious Tom Hanks

Legendary good male Tom Hanks was kind of a jerk on a set of “Sleepless in Seattle.” And “America’s Sweetheart” Meg Ryan incited a small green when a span filmed “You’ve Got Mail.”

Oh, and that famous fake-orgasm stage in “When Harry Met Sally”? It wasn’t Nora Ephron’s invention — yet she’s perceived solitary credit for everyone’s favorite open consummate opposite a years.

The new book “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved a Romantic Comedy” delivers a pleasure of buzzy Hollywood backstories unearthed by maestro party publisher Erin Carlson.

The book also serves as a reverence to Ephron, a strike film director, bestselling author and author of dual Broadway shows — including “Lucky Guy,” a story of Daily News columnist Mike McAlary.

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Playwright and film executive Nora Ephron (l.) and actor Tom Hanks arrive during a Barrymore Theatre in New York, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2002.


Hanks, Ryan, Rob Reiner and a horde of others supposing uninformed interviews about Ephron, with good results.

Ephron was hired in 1984 to write “When Harry Met Sally” for Reiner and his co-producer, Andy Scheinman. The grounds was set: Can a male and a lady ever only be friends?

In one meeting, Reiner agonized that Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, indispensable to dump a large exhibit about women that would jolt Harry, played by his tighten crony Billy Crystal.

Scheinman had only “the thing.” His girlfriend’s sister, Dani Minnick, a indication famous for a array of cigarette commercials, Virginia Slims, had confided that women feign orgasms.

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I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved a Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson

“I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved a Romantic Comedy” by Erin Carlson

Reiner was blindsided, refusing to trust Ephron when she insisted it was true. Ordering several womanlike staffers into his office, a bearishly built executive shouted what sounded like an accusation:


Yes, they all said. “The thing” went into a script.

While it was Ryan’s thought to act out a elaborately calculated orgasm, she froze when it came to filming a scene. It fell to Reiner to offer a demonstration.

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Ephron got all a credit for Meg Ryan's iconic feign orgasm onscreen with Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, yet Rob Reiner and Andy Scheinman concocted a idea.

Ephron got all a credit for Meg Ryan’s iconic feign orgasm onscreen with Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally,” yet Rob Reiner and Andy Scheinman concocted a idea.

(Columbia Pictures)

The executive took a chair in Katz’s Deli subsequent to Crystal and opposite from Ryan, all too wakeful his mom Estelle sat only a few tables over. Reiner had hired mom to broach a famous line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Estelle had told Reiner she was happy to pointer on only to spend a day with her son. “I’ll come,” she said. “I’ll have a prohibited dog.”

Estelle, in her early 70s, got so most more.

Reiner, ashamed during carrying to approach “a lady on how to feign an orgasm in front of my mother,” manned adult and started pulsation a table, breathing aloud while shouting, “Oh God! Oh God!”

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Aaron Barsky, a partner director, remembers Crystal as uncertain in his “first heading role.” He leaned heavily on his friend Reiner for soundness — so most so that Ryan felt excluded.

Reports flush that a co-stars were hardly vocalization during points. “I felt like we was doing my work in my trailer,” Ryan certified later.

Tom Hanks eventually starred as Daily News Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy, created by Ephron, in a singular Broadway run.

Tom Hanks eventually starred as Daily News Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike McAlary in “Lucky Guy,” created by Ephron, in a singular Broadway run.

(©2012 Joan Marcus)

But by a time a film wrapped and Harry had Sally in his arms, everybody was on good terms.

Ephron connected deeply with Ryan on a “boy’s set,” and rushed a blond singer a duplicate of her final book for “Sleepless in Seattle” in 1992.

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“We’ve got to do this together,” Ephron insisted. Ryan agreed.

Ephron afterwards instituted a “difficult conversation” where she sensitive Ryan that her then-husband, Dennis Quaid, wasn’t right for a purpose of Sam Baldwin.


Meg Ryan as Annie Reed (l.) Ross Malinger as Jonah Baldwin (c.) and Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin (r.) in a stage from “Sleepless in Seattle.” Hanks was disturbed about a child removing a “good lines” in a film.


The studio was going with Tom Hanks.

In fact, Ephron wasn’t sole on casting Hanks. The Oscar-winning actor was heedful of her, too.

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“I was an intensely fractious actor during that time,” removed Hanks. “Coming in and saying, ‘Why does a child have so many good lines?’

“I had done adequate cinema to get smoked on a integrate of occasions as good as meditative that we was a large shot and ‘My voice contingency be heard.’”

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron

(Misha Erwitt/New York Daily News)

Long after Ephron and Hanks staid their differences, “the kid” still presented problems. The purpose of Jonah, a eight-year-old son who plays matchmaker, went creatively to Nathan Watt.

On a shoot’s initial weekend, after a few days of rehearsal, Watt was fired. Hanks and a child weren’t connecting. Producer Gary Foster had already put in an puncture call to an behaving coach.

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“Tom is being driven crazy and this child keeps repeating dialog off-camera when Tom’s perplexing to film a stage and he’s not adding to a film right now,” he said.

Once Watt was gone, Ross Malinger was brought in to play Jonah — even yet Ephron disliked his “chipmunk chin” and a fat around his neck. The author was famously a captious in all things.

Exported.; EXP;

Mike McAlary (r.) shakes hands with Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman after winning a Pulitzer Prize for columns on Abner Louima, plant of military brutality.

(Savulich, Andrew)

“She could cut we like a blade if we done a mistake,” says associate writer Jim Skotchdopole, an Ephron ally.

The subsequent casting plea was a Empire State Building, pivotal to a film’s final regretful scene.

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Management during a iconic Midtown skyscraper refused to tighten a regard rug to tourists for filming.

Ephron, who knew each energy actor in New York, reached out to open family guru Howard Rubenstein. He took his “impassioned plea” to a sovereign jail where a building’s owner, a infamously conceited Leona Helmsley, was portion 18 months for taxation evasion.

Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner

(Richard Corkery /New York Daily News )

The Queen of Mean relented.

By a time Ephron, Hanks and Ryan reunited for “You’ve Got Mail” in 1997, it had a feel of a family reunion. Except Ryan had incited difficult.

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“She was only some-more perfectionist on that movie!” recalls Delia, Ephron’s sister and co-writer. “She only indispensable some-more stuff, and she wasn’t totally happy.”

In “You’ve Got Mail,” Ryan’s impression Kathleen Kelly owns a dear children’s bookstore on a Upper West Side. Her outpost is threatened by a outrageous corporate bookstore plonked down opposite a travel by Joe Fox (Hanks).

Actor Tom Hanks gestures towards a correspondence of a playwright Nora Ephron after a premiere of a play Lucky Guy in New York on Apr 1, 2013.

Actor Tom Hanks gestures towards a correspondence of a playwright Nora Ephron after a premiere of a play “Lucky Guy” in New York on Apr 1, 2013.


He’s her nemesis, solely she’s unknowingly descending in adore with him online.

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“She was removing to a point, really, where she was commencement to feel ‘I don’t know if we still wish to be Meg Ryan,’” says dress engineer Albert Wolsky.

Ryan was during a start of a catastrophic slide. In 2000, a singer dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” tricked her fervent fans when she began a ardent event with Russell Crowe on a set of “Proof of Life.”


Ephron, who knew each energy actor in New York, reached out to open family guru Howard Rubenstein (pictured) to “cast” a Empire State Building in “Sleepless in Seattle.”

(Watts, Susan)

Ryan followed a liaison by creation grittier choices, like a amorous thriller “In a Cut” and a fighting tale “Against a Ropes.”

Both failed. Fans had incited their backs on a darling actress.


After “You’ve Got Mail,” Ephron didn’t measure again during a box bureau until “Julie and Julia” in 2009. Her rarely expected “Bewitched,” starring Nicole Kidman, had moviegoers throwing popcorn during a shade 4 years earlier.

That same year, Hanks incited her down prosaic when she approached him with a book formed on a life of New York columnist McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize shortly before his genocide from cancer in 1998.

Many saw McAlary’s hard-won exposé of a sadistic abuse of Haitian newcomer Abner Louima by cops as heroic. But Hanks only didn’t like a guy.

In 2011, though, Hanks’ feelings altered when he schooled Jon Hamm — during a tallness of “Mad Man” insanity — was sniffing around a role.


Empire State Building owners Leona Helmsley relented to Rubenstein's pleas in a end.

Empire State Building owners Leona Helmsley relented to Rubenstein’s pleas in a end.

(Keith Bedford/Getty Images)

“Lucky Guy,” starring Hanks, had a hugely successful singular run on Broadway a year after Ephron’s death.

Hanks had kept during Ephron, wanting to know because she was so preoccupied by McAlary. She certified she wasn’t a sold fan of his columns or career.

It was a play’s director, Geoffrey Wolfe, who finally clued Hanks in, pity Ephron’s respond when he acted a same question.

“This play is about somebody who has some-more fitness than talent,” Ephron explained, practically reflecting on her possess prolonged fibre of successes. “And we know something about that.”

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