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Thank Rob Reiner for world's best diner-orgasm performance

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TORONTO -- As Rob Reiner's film And So It Goes hits theatres on Friday, he regards When Harry Met Sally as one of the most memorable experiences of his esteemed directorial career.

For one, he met his wife, photographer Michele Singer, on the set of the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy that came out 25 years ago.

Then there was the unique experience of showing star Meg Ryan how to do that famous scene in which she pretends to have an orgasm opposite Billy Crystal in a diner.

"She was a little nervous doing it in front of the crew and all the extras and everybody, and the first time she did it, it was a little bit kind of tepid and then I said, 'Come on, Meg, you've got to do it with a little bit more,"' Reiner recalled in a recent telephone interview.

"And she did it and again, it was not so strong, and then I said, 'Hey, look, let me show you what I want,' and I sat down opposite Billy and I started pounding the table and going 'Yes, yes!' and doing all this stuff.

"He said it looked like he was having a date with Sebastian Cabot or somebody like that, and then I realized that I'm having an orgasm in front of my mother. My mother was sitting right over there and it was a little embarrassing." (Reiner's mother, Estelle, played the nearby patron who declares after the orgasm display: "I'll have what she's having.")

And So It Goes stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton (who had never starred opposite each other before) as neighbours in an apartment complex.

Douglas's curmudgeonly character, Oren, is a widower and realtor who owns the complex. When his estranged son goes to jail, he must look after the granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) he didn't know existed.

Helping Oren is Keaton's character, Leah, a widow who sings at a local bistro. Mark Andrus, who co-wrote As Good As It Gets, penned the screenplay.

Reiner has had a varied career with a long list of directorial efforts in many genres, including Misery and the Oscar-nominated A Few Good Men and Stand By Me.

But ever since he helmed 2007's The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminally ill men, he found himself wanting to do a specific type of story -- one that reflects the experiences of "people of a certain age," including himself.

"The whole idea of looking at what people think about and feel about as they get older and realize that life is precious," the 67-year-old movie maker said from Los Angeles. "All those things that are cliché you start to really internalize and understand very deeply.

"People in their 60s and 70s, they're still desiring to be with the opposite sex, same sex, but also they want to be intimate, they want to be friends and they still have sexuality and all those things still exist."

For Reiner, thoughts of mortality started to creep into his mind as soon as he turned 60, a birthday he admits was a "real shock."

"I felt like I was very, very, very young old person," he said. "It's like the beginning of old age, because it's like if you're lucky to live to 90, you basically have lived two-thirds of your life -- you only have another ... if you're lucky, 30 years to go."

Reiner was also attracted by the opportunity to helm a story in which the leading woman is more mature and emotionally advanced than the man, as he did with When Harry Met Sally and several other films.

"What I've discovered just from my experience and what I've observed of the world around me is that basically women are more evolved," he said. "They're just more emotionally connected, they know what they want more, they're not as shallow when it comes to the important things in life, which is the emotional connections you make with people.

"And men, they just kind of just run around like idiots until they figure out what they're supposed to be doing."

Reiner said he has three other films in development but admitted it's getting harder for him to get his movies made these days.

"Studios don't want to hire a guy who's 67 and also, I'm not interested in the kind of movies that they make," he said. "Maybe I can make movies until I'm 80 years old. I mean, look at Clint (Eastwood), he's still doing it. So I guess if I'm in good health I'll want to keep doing it."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2014 C3

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