TRIBUTES

06.27.12

Stars and Friends Remember Nora Ephron: Mike Nichols, Nicole Kidman, and More

Mike Nichols, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, and other stars and friends remember writer, filmmaker, and humorist Nora Ephron, who died at 71.

“What kind of a place is this? I feel like someone reached in and grabbed my compass from around my neck and threw it from a moving train. How will I navigate? I think a lot of friends and readers will feel like that. Nora was so funny and interesting that we didn’t notice that she was necessary. She is absolutely irreplaceable.”
—Mike Nichols

“I am very sad to learn of Nora’s passing. She was a brilliant writer and humorist. Being her Harry to Meg’s Sally will always have a special place in my heart. I was very lucky to get to say her words.”
—Billy Crystal

“Nora was a joy to be around; she was so smart, warm, and funny. I am so grateful that she was my friend and we had the opportunity to work together. My thoughts and love are with her family at this time. I will never forget the dinners, games, and laughter we all shared.”
—Nicole Kidman

“It feels impossible to me that a force as indomitable and funny and vibrant and alive and stubborn as Nora could be gone. She was the one you went to when you needed to be propped up. She was the one who told you what to do and how to do it—what to wear, what to eat, how to respond to any situation. We were business friends, we did Sleepless in Seattle together. Nora wrote a perfect script, and it seemed obvious that she was the perfect person to direct it. But, believe me, there were guys in suits that didn’t see it that way. They never quite came out and said it, but the attitude was, ‘You can’t be thinking of giving a woman the money and authority to direct a movie.’ But we [the senior group at Tristar] supported her in that effort. And Nora’s Sleepless was perfect. It was one of the only movies where you could say, ‘I’ll see you at the premiere.’ No notes, no changes. We just had to wait for the little maps that tracked Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’s whereabouts to be created and dropped into the film. That was it. I’ll miss her wit, her humor, her precision in knowing the right thing to do or say at the right moment.
—Stacey Snider, co-chairman and CEO of DreamWorks

“I wish I'd known Nora well. I suspect that anyone who came within her sphere, however briefly, felt the same way. For me, there was the occasional brief encounter with her in Manhattan or the Hamptons, and the annual, much anticipated chat at the Taleses’ on Christmas Eve. And once, for one splendid day, I was privileged to say her words under her direction on my set with Will Ferrell in a scene she'd created for and about us in Bewitched. When we'd played her scene the requisite number of times, she asked us to improvise the interview I was ostensibly conducting, turning us loose for two hours as she lurked behind the camera, her mouth stuffed with tissues to prevent the sound of her laughter at Will's antics from ruining the takes. In the edit, Nora the director retained some of our dialogue alongside her handiwork. A singular honor. That was about the extent of our acquaintance. So there are expressions about the unthinkable loss of her from legions more qualified than I to offer an opinion. And yet, when The Beast invited me to contribute to its tribute page, I summoned the presumption to offer at least this thought. In the decidedly unromantic era in which Nora plied her trade, she plunged in and swam against the tide with several of the most exquisitely wrought romantic meditations since Romance's Hollywood heyday of the thirties and forties. If Casablanca is the paradigm of romantic drama, what is When Harry Met Sally? Surely, it’s the standard against which any romantic comedy must be measured. For the foreseeable future, only she might have matched it. And now she won't. And neither, I think, will anyone else.”
—James Lipton

“I suppose you could say Nora was my ideal. In a world where we’re told that you can’t have it all, Nora consistently proved that adage wrong. A writer, director, wife, mother, chef, wit—there didn’t seem to be anything she couldn’t do. And not just do it, but excel at it, revolutionize it, set the bar for every other screenwriter, novelist, director. She was inspiring, intimidating, and insightful. She was so, so alive. It makes no sense to me that she isn’t anymore. My heart goes out to her family and the many others who treasured her.”
—Carrie Fisher

“I did not know Nora Ephron well, and I sometimes suspect she thought me something of a whiny sad-sack, or would have if she'd known me better. Obviously, I have her to thank for making such a beautiful movie inspired in part by a book I wrote and experience I had. Even more obviously, her accomplishments as a writer, journalist, screenwriter, and director, and the fact that she built these careers steadily, with ever-increasing verve and brilliance, is an inspiration to any woman or, well, anyone, struggling to find a voice and the confidence to speak with it, clearly and without reservation. I first read Heartburn in college, and can honestly say that the following lines did as much to shape who I want to be as a writer—and as a person, really—as anything else I've read. I repeat this to myself, sometimes, when I am feeling cowed by life: "If I throw this pie at him, he will never love me. But he doesn't love me anyway. So I can throw the pie if I want to." There are lots worse ways to define an artist.”
—Julie Powell, author, Julie & Julia

I was lucky enough to work with Nora on Julie & Julia a few ago, but I had first met her in 1997 when I auditioned for You’ve Got Mail. I was extremely excited and nervous to read for her and her casting director, Francine Maisler. After stumbling through the material, Nora turned to me and said, “You got the part.” That was the one and only time in my life that someone gave me a job in the room. I was young and foolish enough to think that’s how people do things in this business ... it’s not. It was the way Nora Ephron worked. Confident. Strong. A woman who said what she meant and did what she said.
Chris Messina, co-star of Julie & Julia

“Nora Ephron was a journalist/artist who knew what was important to know; how things really worked, what was worthwhile, who was fascinating and why. At a dinner table and on a film set she lifted us all with wisdom and wit mixed with love for us and love for life. Rita and I are so very sad to lose our friend who brought so much joy to all who were lucky enough to know her.”
—Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

“I’ll miss her wit, her humor, her precision in knowing the right thing to do or say at the right moment.”

“Nora, as a writer, director, and producer, is a legendary triple threat in entertainment’s great trifecta: Broadway, Hollywood, and publishing. With her passing, many lights have been extinguished—studio lights, theater lights, of course. But mostly, the light from the chandelier above her dining table where so many gathered to share, with Nick and her sons, her extraordinary life. So many friends will miss her terribly and no longer know who to call, what to see, what to listen to, where and what to eat, and often, what to think. Such is her energy, her enthusiasm, and her gift for friendship.
—Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, Sony Corp.

“We are devastated and heartbroken. We all loved Nora very much.”
—Amy Pascal, co-chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and chairman, Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group