On Location With Nora Ephron
Katherine Wolkoff for The New York Times
The writer and film director lives with her husband, Nicholas Pileggi, in a “not huge” Upper East Side apartment.
By EDWARD LEWINE
Published: November 24, 2010
Occupation: Writer and director Sunday Book Review: ‘I Remember Nothing’ by Nora Ephron(November 28, 2010)Books of The Times: ‘I Remember Nothing’ by Nora Ephron
(November 5, 2010)Times Topic:Nora Ephron
Next Project: “Who knows?”
Wishes She’d Written: Are you kidding? A lesser sentence of Jane Austen, I wish I had written. I wish I had written “The Great Gatsby.” I read four or five books a year I wish I had written.
Movie, Book or Play? The most satisfying thing is not to have to choose, not to have to rely on any of them for anything — to make a living or anything else.
Perfect Day: Good weather and a walk in the park. I don’t ask for much.
Worst Thing About New York: Bicycle messengers. They scare me. Sometimes, when I am not worrying about other forms of death, I am certain that I am going to be run over by a bicycle messenger.
Hobby: I play craps. About 900 years ago, when I was a columnist at Esquire, they had a sales conference in Paradise Island, the Bahamas, and someone taught me. It is such a great game. I will teach almost anyone how to play craps at a moment’s notice.
Always With Her: I almost always have dice in my purse.
Fantasy Career: I would have liked to have been a singer of popular songs in the ’40s and ’50s. It was the greatest music era ever.
Morning Routine: I wake up sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. We read the papers in bed. Then I spend several hours failing to make a transition from that to a busy workday. I definitely eat breakfast. Then at some point I actually sit down and try to write.
Antiprocrastination Technique: I have on my computer something called Freedom. You put in however many minutes of freedom you would want, and for that period of time your computer does not allow you to go on the Internet.
Workout Routine: I sort of go on the treadmill. That happens a couple of times a week.
Neck Guards: I have always loved scarves, because in New York you have to wear them to keep your neck warm. Then, as you get older, you need to keep your neck shielded from public view.
Best Thing About Aging: Nothing, except for the fact that one is still here.
Talent She Wants: I wish I could dance. I wish I could sing. I wish I could act.
“When Harry Met Sally” Memento: I wrote the screenplay, but I have the Japanese poster of the play. I saw it in Tokyo, and it was in Japanese, but I understood every bit of it.
Lillian Hellman Memento: I have some letters that she wrote me. I’ve always saved letters, and hers were particularly amusing.
Character She Identifies With: Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s “Emma,” because she is just — I am sorry, but I don’t identify with her in a good way — because she is so bossy. I do see myself in her, I am afraid.
Parental Memento: My parents, Henry and Phoebe Ephron, were writers. I have a few books that came from their library. I seem to have their old copy of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Collections: I have a collection of cider pitchers. I have a collection of wineglasses. I used to collect cats. Then people started giving me cats. Then I got a divorce from the cats, and people kept giving me cats. It was awful.
Superstition: I have one superstition left over from my mother that you are never supposed to pass the salt. If someone asks, you are supposed to set it down in front of them instead of passing it to them. I have no idea what happens to you. My mother is there with me whenever someone asks me to pass the salt.
Best Thing About Hollywood: One that comes to mind instantly is Langer’s Delicatessen. It honestly has the greatest pastrami sandwich you have ever eaten. It is so beyond.
Filmed Memories: I have photographs of some of my favorite shots of my movies, including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Julie and Julia.” They are all in my office.
“Julie and Julia” Memento: We gave knives out as wrap presents to the crew instead of the usual fleece outer garment. They say “Julie and Julia” on them.
Always in Fridge: Are you kidding? If you open our refrigerator, you have to close the door to keep things from falling out. I buy more food than the two of us can eat. Then I freeze it.
Obsolete Thing She Won’t Toss: A collection of teacups that I once had a place for, but now I don’t really. They are too gorgeous to be used, and they hold barely any tea, I’d like to add. So they are just in a little cupboard, and it is very sad.
Evening Routine: Around 6 o’clock we’d figure what we want for dinner. It is very ordinary. I cook dinner. We eat it. Nick does the dishes. It is a fantastic division of labor. Then we might watch something on TV and read. Or go back to work. Bedtime would be midnight.
Historic Figure She’d Like to Meet: John F. Kennedy. I shook his hand once, but I think he would have been a fun person to know. I could be wrong.
Found on Set: We shot a scene in “Julie and Julia” in a wonderful New York store called Tender Buttons. I bought a set of buttons there that are the suits in a deck of cards, and I framed them. They are very charming.
Next Big Purchase: I am thinking about going to Istanbul, because I haven’t been.
Favorite Vacation Spot: I like Las Vegas.
Flat With a View: The apartment has a view of the Chrysler Building. As a result, we have a lot of Chrysler Building stuff. I have a cookie jar I bought on the Internet and a wonderful Saul Steinberg of the Chrysler Building that I did not buy on the Internet.
Favorite Spot: The bed.
Inspiration: I don’t feel as full of inspiration as I once was.