Billy Crystal's Spontaneity Gave When Harry Met Sally Its Most Famous Line

Whether or not you've watched the 1989 Rob Reiner-directed film "When Harry Met Sally...," you probably know about its most famous scene. You've definitely heard the line, "I'll have what she's having." It's the story of Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan), two people who meet at the end of college and debate whether men and women can be just friends. It's not a debate that's currently raging, but hey, this was 1989. It was a weird time. 

Harry and Sally keep finding their way back to each other and attempt the friendship route with their relationship, though ultimately, they end up together. The entire film is full of vignettes from couples that writer Nora Ephron interviewed, discussing their connection, how they met, and their journey toward love.

It was a sweet movie for the time being. Still, truthfully, other than the line about men and women being friends (or not), the thing people really remember is Meg Ryan performing a fake orgasm in Katz's Delicatessen and the line that comes (I'm not even a little bit sorry for that) after. According to a 2022 story in iNews about the history of the film, it was Crystal who came up with the final quip of the scene. 

'I'll have what she's having'

If you have somehow lived your entire life without seeing this particular moment in the film, it occurs after these two have actually become friends. Harry has broken up with someone and Sally says she's glad she never hooked up with him because of how he treats women. He says they're probably happy because he can make them orgasm. Sally tries to tell him that he might not know if they were faking it and proceeds to fake one in front of him and all the other diners. She goes right back to her lunch after. I don't know if it directly led to the 10-year Herbal Essences shampoo commercial campaign where women orgasmed from the product's scent, but it would be a surprise if it weren't at least part of the idea. 

At the end of the scene, there is a shot of an older woman in the diner, played by the director's mother, Estelle Reiner. When asked what she wants to order, she delivers the line that is one of the best of all time; "I'll have what she's having." In case you wondered why it was in there in the first place, it was supposed to be indicative of things that women know, but men do not. Again, this was over three decades ago. Hilariously, the final button of the scene was the result of Billy Crystal's spontaneity. And thus, a legendary movie moment came to be. 

'One of the most memorably funny lines in movie history'

At the time, the whole fake orgasm scene was a little shocking to audiences (and the other diner patrons), but that famous line was delivered with such perfection, such deadpan directness, that it overshadowed the entire scene. Obviously, the shock wore off, going by those Herbal Essences commercials that showed up only a few years later, including one with sex expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer. What's interesting is that the scene isn't complete without that final line, which you actually expect Dr. Ruth to say. She suggests trying the body wash, in case you're wondering. It's a great sign of how social comfortability has evolved over time. The moment in "When Harry Met Sally..." was provocative at the time, but considered tame by our current rom-com standards. 

Estelle Reiner (who was married to director Carl Reiner) appeared in several comedies, but this was her most memorable performance. In fact, when she died at the age of 94 in 2008, The New York Times called her the woman "who delivered one of the most memorably funny lines in movie history." Not a bad legacy to have. "When Harry Met Sally..." might be a little dated, but it's still incredibly charming and worth a rewatch as part of movie history.