'When Harry Met Sally' Director Reveals Original Ending Would Leave You Wrecked

'When Harry Met Sally' Director Reveals Original Ending Would Leave You Wrecked
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

It was the director's personal story that had an impact on the film's finale.


  • When Harry Met Sally, one of the best rom-coms in history, was based on the life experiences of its director, Rob Reiner.
  • At the time, Reiner had divorced his wife after ten years of marriage and felt that the movie couldn't have a happy ending – the characters would end up walking away from each other.
  • During filming, Reiner met his future wife and reconsidered the ending of the movie, rewriting it as a happy ending.

Romantic comedy is one of the oldest genres, but few rom-coms have been as beloved by viewers as Rob Reiner's 1989 film When Harry Met Sally.

Romantic cinema is one of the few genres in which it is easy to draw on personal experience. After all, few of the screenwriters and directors served in the police, hid from the law, or were masked maniacs, but almost all had the opportunity to love, or be loved. And it was life experience that formed the basis of When Harry Met Sally and made the story so great.

When Harry Met Sally Was Inspired by Director’s Personal Life

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Work on the movie began in 1984, and this was a transitional time for Reiner in his personal life. In 1971, he married actress Penny Marshall, but both stars prioritized work over their personal lives and eventually divorced in 1981. Reiner became a bachelor again and plunged into romantic adventures that often turned out to be more ridiculous than pleasant.

Three years later, Reiner had accumulated so many funny and humiliating stories that he was happy to share them with his acquaintances and friends, such as screenwriter Nora Ephron.

Their candid conversations about how men and women behave differently in romantic relationships gave them the idea for a comedy in which the characters have been friends for a long time and have the warmest feelings for each other, but are hesitant to take the relationship to another level.

Harry And Sally Weren’t Meant to End Up Together

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However, the first version of the script did not include Harry and Sally staying together in the finale, and this is how Reiner wanted the movie to end, in his own words:

“It was going to be the two of them seeing each other after years, talking and then walking away from each other.”

Reiner Came Up With the Happy Ending After Falling in Love Himself

Reiner's opinion changed when he fell in love again. Toward the end of filming, the director met and began an affair with photographer Michelle Singer, and this relationship convinced him to create a romantic happy ending for the movie.

Although it did not outperform the blockbusters or surpass the number of awards won by the 1989 dramas, When Harry Met Sally triumphed in its own genre. When the American Film Institute compiled a list of the best Hollywood films in 2000, Reiner's film ranked 23rd among comedies.

The importance of this brilliant flick in the world of rom-coms is hard to overstate – fragments of its witty, frank and observant plot can be found in many movies released in recent decades.

The director got married in the same year that rom-com, and 1989 turned out to be a year of double happiness for him. Could there be a better ending to one of the greatest rom-coms in Hollywood history?

Source: CNN