- O’Donnell recalls the time she couldn’t get a line right while making “Sleepless in Seattle.”
- Director Nora Ephron “kept saying ‘cut’ when I wouldn’t get it right,” she told Vulture.
- A crew member then taped the lines to his leg and O’Donnell read it while filming.
Rosie O’Donnell revealed just how serious famed writer-director Nora Ephron was about having her actors say the lines exactly as she wrote them.
In an interview with Vulture that ran on Thursday, O’Donnell explained shooting a scene in “Sleepless in Seattle” where the “You’ve Got Mail” director was not happy with the actor flubbing a line during a long monologue.
“I’m doing this whole thing, and she yells, ‘Cut! It was ‘a tree,’ not ‘the tree,'” O’Donnell said Ephron told her in regards to a scene, which was later cut down in editing, in which her character Becky recalls getting into a car accident with her husband.
“It was the longest speech I had ever said in a film in my career up to that point,” she continued. “She kept saying ‘cut’ when I wouldn’t get it right.”
O’Donnell said they then went on a break and during that time something happened that saved her from the wrath of Ephron.
“One of the grips had taped the whole [monologue] on his leg, away from where [Ephron] could see,” she said.
“I sort of looked at his leg and read it. And [Ephron] said, ‘Cut! That was perfect!'”
In the classic rom-com, O’Donnell plays the friend of Annie (Meg Ryan), who falls for Sam (Tom Hanks) after he opens up about the loss of his wife while speaking on a radio talk show.
Up to the point of making “Sleepless in Seattle,” O’Donnell had been known for her stand-up comedy work and her breakout role opposite Madonna in “A League of Their Own,” which she told Vulture was “largely improvisation.”
O’Donnell said the most recent project she did, the acclaimed HBO series “I Know This Much Is True” starring Mark Ruffalo, once more stretched her acting ability.
“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,” she told Vulture.