Ah, remember the good ole days of dial-up connections and chat rooms?

You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan's 1998 romantic comedy, turns 20 today, and if we'd send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils to celebrate, if only we knew your name and address. 

While it's easy for some to knock the Nora Ephron film for its now outdated technology (RIP AOL) or  maybe being a Sleepless in Seattle quasi-sequel, You've Got Mail is so much more than that, and far outlives the tech is used to help tell the  love story of Joe Fox (Hanks), of Fox Books, and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan), the owner of The Shop Around the Corner. 

It's a love letter to New York. It's a love letter to independent bookstores (and now, somewhat ironically, for the big bad chains that put them out of business). It's also a love letter to love letters.                                                

Come on, this is the movie that inspired Mindy Kaling to throw a themed dinner party at Christmas, because as any true You've Got Mail fan knows, it totally counts as a Christmas movies. (Never. Enough. Twinkle. Lights.)

"You've Got Mail is the most soul-mate-y of soul-mate movies," Kaling told Vulture

Kaling loves the movie so much she even paid homage to it on The Mindy Project in a pretty big way: "The name of the bar that our characters go to is called Kathleen Kelly's. She was so stylish in that really understated hot Manhattan librarian way."

You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan

Warner Bros.

Aside from Ryan's wardrobe as Kathleen Kelly, the true star of the movie is Nora Ephron, who directed the movie and co-wrote it with her sister, Delia Ephron

Ephron, who passed away in 2012, was a journalist-turned-screenwriter-turned-director credited for saving the romantic comedy genre with her signature brand of wit and wistfulness. She loved love but was also practical, she could make caviar funny and flour floating into the air early in the morning on New York romantic. 

"Knowing and loving Nora meant her world— or her neighborhood—became yours. She gave you books to read and took you to cafés you'd never heard of that became legends. You discovered Krispy Kremes from a box she held out, and you learned that there is such a thing as the perfect tuna sandwich," Tom Hanks wrote of his dear friend after her passing for Time. "She would give your kids small, goofy parts in movies with the caveat that they might not make the final cut but you'd get a tape of the scene. For a wrap gift, she would send you a note saying something like, 'A man is going to come to your house to plant an orange tree—or apple or pomegranate or whatever—and you will eat its fruit for the rest of your days.' Rita and I chose orange, and the fruit has been lovely, sweet and abundant, just as Nora promised—a constant and perfect reminder of the woman we loved so much."

I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson is a must-read for any Ephron fans (and perfect for a last-minute gift idea) and treasure trove of behind the scenes goodies and interviews for When Harry Met SallySleepless in Seattle (which turned 25 this past summer), and, of course, You've Got Mail

Using Carlson's in-depth book, along with other interviews, we've pulled 13 secrets and fun facts you might not know about You've Got Mail, which is the rare movie that happens to be so era-specific (They met in an over-30s chat room where they both claimed to never have been before!) yet so timeless. 

You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Nora Ephron

Warner Bros.

Ephron was notoriously a very specific director, with a love for little details to add authenticity, especially when it came to establishing New York City, specifically the Upper West Side, one of the great loves of her life.

During the infamous "That caviar is a garnish!" face-off between Joe and Kathleen, Ephron, a foodie, insisted on a lavish spread, and even was upset that the avocados weren't Hass avocados. "Oh, that is so sad," script supervisor Dianne Dreyer recalled the director saying. (That caviar garnish bit was not in the original script, by the way, with Ephron adding it in on set because she found the word "garnish" funny. She was right.)

She even made sure to have the same extras in the background of various scenes to make the the UWS feel like a little community; she wanted it to feel really lived-in. 

"The extra who is playing the florist [in the beginning of the film] is pregnant," Ephron revealed on the DVD commentary. "We put a little pad in her tummy. And one of the things you will see later in the movie is when Meg is buying flowers at that florist, there's a little sign in the window that says, 'It's a girl.'"

Voice of AOL You've Got Mail

AOL

The film was originally titled You Have Mail and was only changed because a consultant hired by Warner Bros. discovered AOL hadn't trademark "You've Got Mail," the infamous greeting by Elwood Edwards back in 1989. Very powerful words. (Elwood's agent tried to get him a voice credit in the movie...which was denied.)

A legal issue the movie couldn't avoid however? They had to ask the woman who had the username Shopgirl to give up the name so they could use it for Kathleen's handle. "She actually worked at an autobody shop," Ephron revealed. 

You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan

Warner Bros.

In order to portray bookshop owner Kathleen Kelly, Ryan trained in an actual book shop, learning how to use the cash register along with her co-star Heather Burns. "We worked...[in a] children's bookstore for a week," she told Vanity Fair. "We learned the register so we would look natural when we got in the store."

In the original script, Kathleen's name was actually Betsy, a nod to Elizabeth Bennett from Price & Prejudice (which also factors into the storyline). Ryan had it changed, as it was the name of her character on As the World Turns. Ryan also had other projects that needed tweaking when it came to the movie: She suggested adding in the twirling memory for Kathleen and her mother (We. Cry. Every. Time.) and the scene when Kathleen ends up pointing a knife at Joe after learning his identity at the book party.

And when it came to Kathleen's now-iconic librarian-chic wardrobe, Ryan had one piece she insisted be used: the Marc Jacobs dress she wears in the final scene of the film. The costume designer, who was avoiding high-end pieces in the character's very feminine-yet-utilitarian wardrobe, relented—but did add a sweater over it. 

"That saved the dress for me," Albert Wolsky said in I'll Have What She's Having.

You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan

Warner Bros.

While it's obviously very dated now, the movie was pretty of-the-moment when it came to computers, chat rooms and all that jazz.

However, one of its stars was a bit hesitant to embrace technology: Ryan didn't have a personal computer until she received a Mac PowerBook on the set. Her first email was sent to Hanks. "I got my first computer when I did that movie," Ryan told Vanity Fair. "I think that the company gave us a computer." 

She never attempted chat rooms. Hanks? He once checked out a 2001: A Space Odyssey chatroom. Alas, no one else was in it. 

Fortunately for Ryan, she had quite the instructor when it came to her Internet 101 quickie class before production began: Kevin Feige, the man responsible for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was just a production assistant when You've Got Mail was made. His biggest responsibility? Teaching Ephron, Ryan and Hanks how to use email and America Online. After giving Ryan almost three days worth of lessons, he was thrilled when she said hi to him on set. "I thought, she remembered my name." he told Carlson. 

Meg Ryan, You've Got Mail

Warner Bros.

Just like Jennifer Aniston's iconic hair on Friends—The Rachel—Ryan's hair was a big f--kin' deal in the '90s. The messy shag was created by Sally Hershberger and quickly became both the star and the hairdresser's calling card. But Ephron wasn't sure about the edgier look for Kathleen Kelly, wanting a "cleaner" look, per I'll Have What She's Having

And a crisis emerged shortly after filming began with the stylist hired for the movie just couldn't replicate Hershberger's work. "Meg what uneasy because her hair was becoming iconic," Matthew Shields, Hershberger's then-protege who was then brought in to save the tresses and the movie, told Carlson

He made the infamous 'do a bit more Kathleen-esque by adding some fullness on top, and trimmed it every three weeks. He obsessively took photos for continuity and became Ryan's secret spy as he would go watch the dailies, giving her feedback on her performance.   

You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Nora Ephron

Warner Bros.

Leave it to Hanks to improvise one of Joe's more charming moments. When he's leaving The Shop Around the Corner after his first introduction to Kathleen, he accidentally closes the shop door on the balloons he was holding for his brother and aunt. 

"Good thing it wasn't the fish!" he said, as he was holding the fish they had won at the fair earlier. Hanks came up with it on the spot, and Ephron liked it so much she kept it in. 

You've Got Mail, End, Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks

Warner Bros.

Before filming of the final scene—when it's finally revealed that Joe Fox is in fact NY152—Hanks had gone on vacation and gained a few lbs. Relatable, right?

"You can see it in the movie. He came back all chubby," producer G. Mac Brown told Carlson in her book. "In the end, when they find each other in the park, he's got nice little roll. Very cute."

But it was noticeable on camera, and Nora wanted him to drop the 4-5 lbs. And a very awkward phone call was made to Hanks.

You've Got Mail,  Ron Rosenbaum, Greg Kinnear

Getty Images; Warner Bros.

For Joe and Kathleen's respective so-wrong-for-them beaus, the Ephron sisters pulled inspiration from real people. Patricia, played to perfection by Indie darling Parker Posey, was based on Judith Regan, a major power player in the New York publishing scene. We assume she also made coffee nervous. 

Frank Navasky (a role Conan O'Brien auditioned for BTW!) was based on Salon.com critic Ron Rosenbaum, who did not love the movie…or the homage to him, calling Greg Kinnear's type-writer obsessed culture critic "a benign caricature." He criticized the movie for its "chirpy sentimentalizing of terminally insipid emails by tragically insipid stars" Ryan and Hanks. So yeah, a Frank Navasky review if we've ever heard one!

He was also based on Nora's ex, Victor Navasky, who at one time operated a satirical start-up magazine from his apartment.

Meanwhile, Joe Fox was named after another one of Nora's ex-boyfriends, a book editor who died in 1995.

You've Got Mail, Dave Chappelle, Tom Hanks

Warner Bros.

After turning down a role in Forrest Gump, a move he regretted after it became an instant hit, comedian Dave Chappelle, 24 at the time, was keen to play Kevin, Joe Fox's business partner and dating guide. Ephron gave Chappelle free reign to improvise any and all of his lines. 

"I don't think there was anyone else on the list," script supervisor Dianne Dreyer said in I'll Have What She's Having. "He proved to be a delight and everything she thought he was." 

Fun little fact straight from the book: In between scenes while filming the lead-up to ShopGirl and NY152's first big meeting at Cafe Lalo, the two actors would sneak into a corner bar to watch Seinfeld's series finale, which was airing at that time. Ah, life before DVR and streaming services. 

You've Got Mail, Sara Ramirez

Warner Bros.

Sara Ramirez aka Callie from Grey's Anatomy played the cashier in the cash-only line at Zabar's. The scene was based on something that happened during production on Sleepless in Seattle, where Nora Ephron watched mystified as her first AD on that film had a similar impact on a concierge at the airport.

Oh, and it was the first and last time Zabar's has ever let a movie film inside the iconic grocery store. And they weren't the only New Yorkers who weren't exactly thrilled with the massive production taking over their city.

During one shoot in a restaurant on the Upper West Side, a man started banging on the window, yelling, "Nora Ephron! Nora Ephron! I thought you loved this neighborhood? Why are you f—kin' with us?!' per cinematographer John Lindley in Carlson's book. She was eventually able to calm him down. 

You've Got Mail, Chris Messina

Warner Bros.

Chris Messina, who would go on to play You've Got Mail's No. 1 celeb fan Mindy Kaling's love interest (and the Internet's boyfriend, Danny Castellano) on The Mindy Project, actually had a small role in the movie: The Sharp Objects star played the clueless sales associate working at Fox Books who needs Kathleen's expertise when it came to "The She Books" series by Mary Noel Streatfield.

You've Got Mail, Heather Burns, Steve Zahn, Meg Ryan

Warner Bros.

When the movie came in way too long, many sub-plots had to be trimmed down. 

So long, Christina's (Heather Burns) dating adventures! Peace out, George (Steve Zahn) dating a detective he believes might actually be the Rooftop Killer! Goodbye all but one of Deborah Rush's scenes! (Nora promised she owed her one. And did pay her debt, giving her a role 10 years later in Julie & Julia.) In case you can't remember her YGM character, she was the author Veronica Grant who got stuck in the elevator with Joe and Patricia, and her dog was actually played by Nora's real-life Chihuahua, Lucy. (A book event Patricia hosted for Veronica was one of the trimmed scenes.)

In the original script, Joe and Kathleen's exes, Patricia and Frank, end up getting together. 

Another scene that was cut from the film included a mysterious novelist played by Michael Palin making a pass for Kathleen after he comes out of hiding to try and help her save The Shop Around the Corner. The scene proved rather predatory though, which included the novelist him grabbing and trying to kiss her before she kicks him in the shin and runs away.

"I thought it was oddly broad," Palin explained in I'll Have What She's Having. "I didn't know if I could quite deliver it in a sort of debonair way."

You've Got Mail, Book of Wonders

Instagram

Kathleen's charming children's bookstore, which was opened by her late mother, Cecilia, was based on Books of Wonder on West 18th St., as the Ephron sisters had been shopping there since its opening in 1980. "We grew up loving children's books more than anything," Delia told Vanity Fair. 

While it wasn't shot in a real book store, the fictional Shop Around the Corner housed 7,000 real books.

Books of Wonder is still open and houses some props from the movie.

Fox Books, of course, was based on Barnes & Noble, though the book retailer wouldn't let them film in a location as they did not want to shut down the store to their customers. Instead, a Barney's department store had just shuttered, so production took over and built Fox Books from scratch. I'll Have What She's Having estimates 25,000 books from over 30 publishers were trucked in, with Ephron requesting all the books were stocked in their proper sections. There was also a real coffee bar.

The Late Show Stephen Colbert

CBS

On The Late Show in 2015, Stephen Colbert confessed his love for the movie during an interview with director Quentin Tarantino (also a noted defender of the film).

 "I wept through the entirety of You've Got Mail—that's my confession," Colbert said.

You've Got Mail is available to stream on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

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