Fall is just around the corner, and that means it’s nearly time to wrap yourself in your coziest cardigan and watch Nora Ephron movies. In a new interview with Vulture, Rosie O’Donnell opened up about her experiences making Sleepless In Seattle, where she co-starred as Becky, Meg Ryan’s wisecracking best friend who was given the best line in the entire film: “You don’t want to be in love; you want to be in love in a movie.” The comedian was more than happy to share about her time on the set of the beloved romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks, and she told a hilarious anecdote about a speech that she just couldn’t get right.
O’Donnell explained that Ephron preferred that actors didn’t ad-lib, instead delivering the dialog exactly as she had written it. “I had this really long two-page scene that was cut down in the movie about [Becky’s husband] Rick and how we got in the car and he hit the tree,” O’Donnell said. “I’m doing this whole thing, and she yells, ‘Cut! It was “a tree,” not “the tree.”‘ So I tried it two more times so I could get as close as I could, and it’s not that I was rewriting — it was the longest speech I had ever said in a film in my career up to that point.”
“She kept saying ‘Cut’ when I wouldn’t get it right,” O’Donnell continued. “So we broke for lunch and when I came back, one of the grips had taped the whole thing on his leg, away from where she could see. I sort of looked at his leg and read it. And she said, ‘Cut! That was perfect!’ And what was perfect were the words that she wrote.”
“When people write and direct, it’s their words. They’re connected to them,” O’Donnell explained, pointing out Ephron’s style. “There were some performances where it was largely improvisation, like League of Their Own. The HBO one that I just did, I Know This Much Is True, we did 30 or 40 takes, some with the lines and some just made up — a different way of directing than Nora Ephron’s, which was very clear and succinct and organized.”