A Night at the Pollock Theater with Meg Ryan and Brad Silberling


Ellise Huston

Features Editor

In the dim lighting of the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Pollock Theater, the audience anxiously waited for the screening of the beloved, classic ’80s movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” to begin. Chatter filled the theater with excited students who had never gotten the chance to see one of their favorite movies on such a big screen. At 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, the seats in the Pollock Theater were filled with students and fans awaiting the start of the event within the “Revisiting the Classics” event series held by UCSB. Except, it wasn’t only that they waited watching the classic film. What they were waiting for was the appearance of the film’s lead actress, Meg Ryan, and the successful screenwriter and director of one of her films called “City of Angels,” Brad Silberling. 

The theater rumbled with cheers as Ryan and Silberling walked out onto the stage, smiling and waving until they took their seats. In this pre-screening discussion and Q&A, Ryan and Silberling discussed their experiences in the film industry, the making of their movies, some of their favorite moments both on and off set, and their best memories of “When Harry Met Sally.” 

Ryan recalled iconic moments from her time during filming, such as the scene of the four-way phone call between the four main characters: Sally (Meg Ryan), Marie (Carrie Fisher), Harry (Billy Crystal), and Jess (Bruno Kirby). This scene took almost a whole day to film. The most iconic topic of conversation, however, was centered around the diner scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” (If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil this scene, but I promise you will be laughing when you watch it.) Ryan spoke about taking initiative in the diner scene, choosing to act it out rather than simply resort to dialogue surrounding the topic. This is now one of the most well-known scenes of the movie. According to Ryan, it was just something she needed to try that ultimately ended up in the film. After laughing at these memorable times, Ryan revealed that she had only fully seen the movie once!

Ryan explained her love for storytelling during the discussions and how important it is for the film industry to showcase human experiences. When talking about this, she reminisced about an epiphany she’d had years earlier, stating that she thought to herself, “Storytelling is important… maybe I’m in the right business.” As a director of so many famous films and television series, Silberling could only agree. The movie “When Harry Met Sally” is one of those that tells the truth about this human experience, meeting the right person at the wrong time and figuring out life as you go along. 

Ryan and Silberling recalled some of their favorite times together, but what moved everyone was their talk of Nora Ephron. As the writer of such an incredible, comedic film, Ephron was able to move audiences to laughter and tears. Ryan spoke of her memories of Ephron with a fondness in her eyes, recounting the dinner parties she’d attended at the writer’s house. Since Ephron passed away in 2012, Ryan has returned to the same house in New York where she’d had so many fond memories. She explained that she’d remembered it being a large, lively venue, but when she returned to see it once it was empty, she’d realized how small it was. It seemed that Ephron was what made it feel so large. 

After the hour-long Q&A portion of the event, Ryan and Silberling gracefully left the stage, and the lights dimmed as “When Harry Met Sally” was projected onto the screen of the theater. For the rest of the night, the audience had the chance to sit back and enjoy this fan-favorite film after their talk with the actress. 
If you want to find more information about these events showing at UCSB in the Pollock Theater, you can find them on their website here!