Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal Remember Her Famous Fake Orgasm Scene From 'When Harry Met Sally'

On Thursday, Meg Ryan reunited with When Harry Met Sally costar Billy Crystal and director Rob Reiner in honor of the film's 30th anniversary

When Harry Met Sally - 1989
Photo: Castle Rock/Nelson/Columbia/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

When fans remember When Harry Met Sally…, they usually recall Nora Ephron’s romantic script, deli sandwiches and of course, Meg Ryan‘s famous fake orgasm scene.

Ryan played Sally Albright in the movie while Billy Crystal played Harry Burns — two friends who end up falling in love. At one point, Crystal’s character says he doesn’t believe any of the women he’s slept with have ever faked an orgasm and Sally proves him wrong by staging a very convincing orgasm in the middle of a deli.

So when Ryan, 57, and Crystal, 71, and director Rob Reiner reunited at the Turner Classic Movies Festival to watch a special screening of the beloved rom-com on Thursday night in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, and they spilled behind the scenes secrets from the iconic moment.

“Comedy of Sally is so behavioral, it’s not really so much talking. It’s doing,” Ryan said of performing the scene. “So it’s sort of really very logical. And it wasn’t hard.”

The film’s director Rob Reiner confessed that he actually performed the scene first, to show Ryan what he wanted it to look like.

“Meg doesn’t realize is she has to do it in front of all these strangers,” Reiner said. “All these people and the extras and everything. And so the first couple of times it looked like it needed more. So I said, ‘Meg, let me show you!'”

“He proceeds to have an orgasm that Mighty Joe Young would be proud of,” Crystal joked of Reiner.

“I just had an orgasm in front of my mother, my mother over there,” Reiner said. (Reiner’s mother was the woman in the deli who famously said at the end of the scene, “I’ll have what she’s having.”) And then [Meg] does little thing at the end, which I didn’t tell her, she does a full-on orgasm like this, it’s over and then she goes right back and she takes a little thing of the coleslaw.”

During the Q&A portion of Thursday night’s event, Reiner, 72, shared that Crystal had the idea for the famous line.

“Billy, he added the biggest laugh in the movie, which is the biggest laugh in any movie I’ve ever been involved with,” Reiner said. “‘I’ll have what she’s having.’ My mother says that line.”

2019 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival - The 30th Anniversary Screening of "When Harry Met Sally" Opening Night
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM

Once they came up with the idea for the fake orgasm, Reiner said, “Meg said, ‘Well, I’ll do it! I’ll just actually act it out, we don’t have to talk about it, I’ll just do it.'”

“‘And in a restaurant! Something big! Some place,'” Crystal added. “‘And then you’ll cut to a woman who will say I’ll have what she’s having!’ We all laughed.”

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY..., Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, 1989, (c) Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection
Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection

Crystal also commented on the many number of takes that scene took, saying, “On the other side of her, I ate 27 pastrami sandwiches. For any Jew, that’s a lot. I was managing spice balls for like six months after that.”

The 10th annual Turner Classic Movies Festival is held from April 11 to April 14 in Los Angeles.

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