When writer/director Nora Ephron died of leukemia on June 26, 2012, millions of fans of her witty books and movies felt that they had lost a friend. Ephron penned the short-lived 2002 Broadway play Imaginary Friends before teaming up with her sister Delia and producer Daryl Roth on the smash-hit dramedy Love, Loss and What I Wore. As Ephron’s final play, Lucky Guy begins previews at the Broadhurst Theatre (starring her frequent movie collaborator Tom Hanks), Roth assembled a reunion of Love, Loss leading ladies to share their memories of collaboration and friendship. Two of the show’s youngest cast members, Lucy DeVito and Natasha Lyonne (the latter responding to Broadway.com via e-mail) offered first-hand accounts of how much Ephron’s personal attention meant to them.
“I always felt honored to be in Nora’s presence. I was in one of the first readings of Love, Loss and What I Wore, and she would answer every question about the script by saying, ‘It’s like this.’ I was scared of her at first because she was a strong person; I was always the youngest one in the bunch, but she never made me feel that I was any less important or had less experience. She paid attention to everyone, and I always felt very looked after by her.”
“I never knew Nora without Delia, and their bond always seemed really cool. I liked the fact that they wrote [Love, Loss] together; I think it shaped the whole show. My mother [actress Rhea Perlman] and I did the show together, and if there was any play for me to appear in with my mom, this one was it! There was a special feeling between Nora and Delia and my mom and me.”
The Book of Nora
“Like so many people, I felt like I knew Nora from reading her books. She reminded me that I should be confident and stand up for myself. Her stuff was so relatable, and she was hilarious. I think she taught women that everyone has flaws, but if you look at those flaws a certain way, it’s funny. She really inspired me in that sense. People talk about how she always wore black, but the last time I saw her in L.A., she was wearing a turquoise sweater and white pants. She looked fresh and gorgeous, and it was special to see her that way. When I think back to rehearsals, she would be sitting in the theater wearing black with her sunglasses on, eating edamame. But that day, in L.A., she looked like the ocean.”
“As soon as I entered the audition for Love Loss and What I Wore, I took one look at Delia and Nora and said: ‘Look, ladies, I'm gonna level with you. I haven't done a ton of theater, but I'm in a terrible relationship and am in dire need of getting out, and I know that you two are the experts at that. Please help me here.’ Sure enough, by opening night I was out. Nora was great that way. She said, ‘Your boyfriend right now is your second husband. You need to meet your third husband—your Nick [Ephron’s beloved third husband Nicholas Pileggi].’ When Nora came down to the Mercer Hotel to meet my new boyfriend, I’ll never forget how relieved I was when she looked at me and gave her approval. I’d been through a rough few years, and the way she welcomed me into her life was a huge step in my healing process.”
Yule Love This One
“One of my favorite memories of Nora has to be when I showed up at her Christmas party a day early with the gift of a yule log. As an assimilated Jew, I was incredibly proud that I’d found such a classy gift to bring uptown. But, like I said, I was a day early. She and Nick opened the door—they were on their way out for the evening—and were totally bewildered to see me standing there, yule log in hand. How was I supposed to understand Christmas? I didn’t have a ton of fancy Christmas practice, but they never held it against me; I was invited back for poker night and Thanksgiving. Somehow being myself was enough for Nora, and man, that meant the world to me. When she passed away, I put together all the notes she’d written me and cried for how lucky I’d been to spend time with her.”
“Nora had the best taste, the sharpest wit and the most enviable collection of black clothes I’d ever seen. I remember one lunch when I was trying to convince her that a cable series would be fun for her. She looked at me and said, ‘Life's too short for television. The only thing I want to do right now is tell Mike McAlary’s story.’ I'm so happy she's getting her wish [with the Broadway premiere of Lucky Guy]. I only wish she could be here to see it.”
For more “Celebrating Nora” memories, click here.