07/12/2012 11:05 am ET

Meg Ryan Remembers Nora Ephron's 'Unbelievable Sweetness,' 'Ferocious' Love of Words

The last time I saw her was at a small dinner party at a mutual friend's apartment on the Upper East Side. It was funny and fun, the six of us catching up. Those are the nights -- you just don't want them to end. She always had an opinion. A love of the precisely observed moment. She got such a big kick out of people who could turn a phrase. To walk away with something quotable from a night, she just loved it. Her love of words was so ferocious. I love that she was writing a pilot in the hospital. My God! To just keep on saying what you feel. To express her experience in the pithiest, quickest, smartest possible way so as to share. It was her life's joy.

I remember When Harry Met Sally… was so tight, funny and rhythmic, all you needed to do was play the music as written. Billy [Crystal] and I just played the instruments. Her directing and screenwriting career was such a natural step out of her observational essays. When you write essays, you control the entire experience, every bit of punctuation. I think it made her a precision operator on a movie set, too. It matters if you take a pause or say "the" and not "a." On one movie, she went on a campaign against the color Yankee blue. She earned that perfection, and it was her pleasure to earn it. You'd go, "God, if I just wrote down all the directions she's whispering in my ear, you could submit them to The New Yorker." Not line readings; she would just sort of explain the sense of something. Sometimes it was nonverbal: a little less, a little more, faster, funnier, maybe emphasize this. It got easier and easier, a shorthand. Always precise, funny, smart.

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