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When Harry Met Sally: Meg Ryan's Famous Deli Scene Was A Late Addition To The Script

The 1989  classic romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally" has a scene which WatchMojo ranked the fourth funniest rom-com scene of all time.

During a conversation between bites of the famous pastrami sandwiches at New York's Katz's Deli about Harry Burns' (Billy Crystal) skills in bed, Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) tells him, "Most women, at one time or another, have faked it." Harry doubts the claim, asking her, "You don't think that I could tell the difference?" 

Sally playfully accepts the challenge, then gives a loud vocal performance of a fake climax, capturing the attention of nearly every other patron in the world-famous deli. When Sally is done, one nearby diner gives a nod to her server and delivers an often-quoted line: "I'll have what she's having."

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter marking the film's 30th Anniversary in 2019, Crystal discussed collaborating with writer Nora Ephron and director Rob Reiner on the film, saying "Nora was very open about taking suggestions and adding her magic to it." He added that Reiner "was the best director I've ever worked with ... we were able to create all these new things that weren't in the script — together, all of us, including the orgasm scene." 

Crystal explained that Ephron, Reiner, and the two stars were in a meeting when Ephron expressed that she felt there was something missing in the film and mentioned to Reiner that women sometimes fake orgasms. Crystal said that Reiner responded, "Really? They never fake one with me," and Ephron wrote Reiner's cocky reaction into the script.

Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal saw an audience react to the scene live during a screening

Billy Crystal explained that in the meeting, Meg Ryan then suggested that Sally should fake an orgasm in a restaurant and Crystal came up with the "I'll have what she's having" line. "And that's how it happened," Crystal said. "That's how the movie got real, because of Meg and I and Nora and Rob sitting around, talking about, 'How can we make it better?'" 

He said it wasn't until he sat with Rob Reiner at a public screening of the film that he realized just how big the scene was hitting with audiences. "When she starts faking it, they go berserk," Crystal said. "I mean, like, berserk. You couldn't hear any dialogue. They laughed through the next scene. The roar, it was gigantic." 

The former standup comedian also took time to draw a distinction between the immediate response the scene elicited in audiences at that moment and the typical delay between performance and feedback actors generally experience. "Movies, you set up the joke in September, you don't hear the laugh until May."