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Julia Roberts was offered 'Sleepless in Seattle' role first but Nora Ephron wanted Meg Ryan to play Annie

Nora Ephron's film 'Sleepless in Seattle' starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan received multiple nominations, including for the 51st Golden Globe Awards. The 1993 romantic comedy-drama earned $17,253,733 in its first weekend of release, placing it second in the North American box office behind 'Jurassic Park' in its third weekend, according to The Baltimore Sun, making it "the surprise hit of the season."

If you've seen the movie, you already know that Annie Reed, played by Ryan, is a dedicated reporter who will do whatever it takes to get the real story, whether it's about a juicy tidbit or a passionate new love. "Everything that happens is accidental" as she says in the movie, which fits with the fact that the 61-year-old 'Rich and Famous' star reportedly acquired the part when Julia Roberts "couldn't do" the leading woman role in the 1993 blockbuster.

Julia Roberts was offered 'Sleepless in Seattle' role first

In the September 2014 issue of InStyle, Julia Roberts admitted that the 1993 classic 'Sleepless in Seattle' almost had her as the lead character. The Oscar winner admitted, "I'd been offered Sleepless in Seattle but couldn't do it," when discussing her supposed lack of commitment. "[Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town (in the 1990 film 'Pretty Woman'), you know?"

'I never felt sour grapes'

The 55-year-old 'Eat, Pray, Love' star didn't appear to be regretting losing what was perhaps one of the most significant rom-com roles of the 1990s. "I always feel like there is room for everybody. I don't consider myself really all that ambitious," she said to the outlet. "When I didn't get a part -- even when I was younger and needing to pay my rent -- I would think, 'Oh, someone else got it. She's going to be so good.' I never felt sour grapes."

Nora Ephron says she wrote it for Meg Ryan

Nora Ephron chose Hanks to play widowed architect Sam and Ryan to play thunderbolt-struck journalist Annie because the two actors grew close during the shooting of 'When Harry Met Sally'. Dennis Quaid and his newlywed Ryan received the script from TriStar Pictures in 1991, long before Nora Ephron became involved with 'Sleepless in Seattle'. Mike Medavoy, the studio owner, "knew they wanted to work together," producer Gary Foster told Carlson, "and they both liked the material." However, the project lacked a director, and the screenplay required improvement.

Ryan later became pregnant and lost interest in Sleepless, while Kim Basinger expressed enthusiasm. But after reading Nora Ephron's version of the script, Ryan knew she had to do it. Foster claimed that the only thing left was the "difficult conversation" Ephron had with the actress regarding Hanks being a better match for Sam than her spouse, as per ENews.

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