It may not be fall yet, but we're ready to send Meg Ryan a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.
Ryan, beloved in rom-com classics such as When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail, is returning to the genre that made her a star. In What Happens Later, which Ryan also co-wrote and directed, she stars as Willa, who ends up snowed in at a regional airport with ex-lover Bill (David Duchovny), whom she has not seen in years.
Bleecker Street David Duchovny and Meg Ryan in 'What Happens Later'
EW has an exclusive first look at Ryan's rom-com redux, which borrows from both classic screwball comedies and late, great writer-director Nora Ephron in its tale of lost love, second chances, and buoyant goodwill. "Sometimes there's a question of: Will they be together? Will they not be together?" Ryan says, in quotes provided to EW from an interview conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike. "For that reason, [What Happens Later] sort of evolves the rom-com genre just a little bit. It's also about old people, and it's still romantic and sexy."
When Willa and Bill are indefinitely delayed at an airport overnight, they find themselves drawn to each other and irked by one another much as they did decades prior. But as they try to unravel their mutual past and compare the trajectory of their lives to the dreams they once shared, they begin to question if their reunion is coincidental or guided by a greater force in the universe.
Bleecker Street Meg Ryan and David Duchovny in 'What Happens Later'
Based on the play Shooting Star by Steven Dietz, the Bleecker Street film boasts a script by Dietz, Ryan, and Kirk Lynn. What Happens Later is Ryan's second feature film behind the camera and her first romantic comedy. She previously directed 2015's Ithaca.
"It has a relationship to movies from the '40s, like Bringing Up Baby, in terms of the banter and the rhythm of things and a lot of that era of filmmaking," Ryan adds. "Nora Ephron used to say about rom-coms that they were really a secretly incredible delivery system to comment on the times, and we do that in this movie."
Bleecker Street Meg Ryan directing 'What Happens Later'
Ryan first met Duchovny via Zoom in preparation for the film but quickly warmed to him as an onscreen partner. "My character, Willa, is a magical thinker and David's character, Bill, is a catastrophic thinker," Ryan explains of the film. "These rom-coms really work when the two characters are somehow opposites and yet have a rhythm of intellect and humor and dialogue and banter that sort of indicates their compatibility. So, it's just been really fun to see David embrace this guy who I don't think is anything really like David. Whereas the Willa thing I can really relate to. To see him dive into every single scene in the fullest way, he's funny, and he's smart, and he's dear, and irresistible."
What Happens Later hits theaters on Nov. 3. Check out more first-look photos below.
Bleecker Street Meg Ryan in 'What Happens Later'
Bleecker Street David Duchovny in 'What Happens Later'
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This article has been updated with the movie's new premiere date.