Many movie fans consider Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally to be one of the most iconic moments in rom-com movie history. Her kids would use a different word to describe it.
This week, Ryan was interviewed by Carol Burnett for Interview magazine. The duo talked about Ryan’s upcoming movie with David Duchovny, her life and her movie career, including that famous scene inside Katz’s Deli from 1989.
During the interview, Burnett thanked the 61-year-old actress for her many wonderful movie moments, including the fake orgasm scene, and asked if she had to do it more than once.
“We probably did that over and over and over again,” Ryan revealed. The actress explained that the movie had even come up that morning during a phone call with her son, actor Jack Quaid, and her daughter, Daisy Ryan.
"It’s funny, my son just called me this morning and he’s in New York staying at a hotel that’s right across the street from Katz’s Deli," she said. "My daughter was here and everybody was on speaker, and they were like, 'Mom, this is a very unique embarrassment.'"
Ryan shared that the 31-year-old Scream actor told his family, "You know you can go into that deli and there’s an arrow pointing down to the table where you shot that scene."
In 2019, Quaid revealed that he had been resisting seeing the Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron film, telling InStyle, "It’s one of those things, where if you really think about it, you don’t want to see your mom having a fake orgasm in a deli when you’re growing up. I avoided it."
The Boys actor eventually watched the movie while filming his own rom-com, Plus One. “I watched the movie, because I’m doing a rom-com, I have to watch the rom-com, and the movie’s so much more than that scene," he told the outlet.
But will he watch his mom’s latest film, What Happens Later? Ryan told Burnett that the movie revolves around the question of how we begin to forgive ourselves and one another. "It’s a rom-com, so a lot of times you have to ask those deeper questions in secret and hope that people can feel them underneath everything," she explained.
Ryan, who directed the film as well as stars in it, explained that the easiest part of making the movie was acting. "I hadn’t done a role in a really long time, but it was fun with David," she said. "A lot of it was done in two shots. I’m proud of that. I set up everything beforehand so that once we were there, it was just David and I trying to tell the truth."
This is Ryan's first onscreen role since 2015's Ithaca, which she also directed. Although the actress mastered rom coms, her stardom superseded the genre with successful dramatic roles as well. But she all but disappeared from Hollywood over a decade ago.
In 2019, Ryan gave a candid interview to New York Times Magazine and had a pretty reasonable answer as to her absence: she was tired.
"I felt in a crazy way that, as an actor, I was burning through life experiences. Somehow I was a helicopter pilot or a journalist or an alcoholic," she explained. (Ryan played a pilot in the military drama Courage Under Fire, a journalist in both classic films When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle and an alcoholic in When a Man Loves a Woman.)
"Ever get in a car — maybe it’s a super expensive car — and the inside's lovely, you can't complain about it, but you can't hear anything outside, because there's so much metal? There's so much between you and everything else," Ryan added. "You're at a disadvantage as a young, famous person because you don't know who's telling you the truth. I'm not complaining — there are so many advantages to being famous — but there are fundamental disadvantages for a part of your brain, your self, your soul. My experiences were too limited."