Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, actress Meg Ryan became one of Hollywood’s most recognisable actresses, becoming the “sweetheart of romantic comedies”. In the ’80s, Ryan starred in a variety of popular films, while acting in supporting roles. She starred in “The Presidio”, alongside Sean Connery and Mark Harmon, “Tony Scott’s Top Gun”, as the wife of Anthony Edwards’ character, Goose, and as a reporter in “Innerspace”, with Dennis Quaid. Ryan left her previous boyfriend, Anthony Edwards, for Quaid and would eventually go on to marry Quaid until 2001.
Her breakout role her came with Rob Reiner’s classic 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry met Sally”, starring alongside Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher. Written by Nora Ephron and based on Rob Reiner’s experiences of being a single, divorced man, the movie was a mature romantic comedy with echoes of Woody Allen, thanks to Nora Ephron’s perfect script. “When Harry met Sally” contains the famous scene of Ryan faking an orgasm in a restaurant. This scene is cinema history.
Meg Ryan next adventure was the movie “Joe versus the Volcano” with Tom Hanks who became her ‘partner in crime’ in other famous productions. That was her first time working with him. An unusual romantic comedy, the film did poorly at the box-office but has since gained a second life as a cult film. The same went for “Prelude to a kiss”, another unusual romance with Alec Baldwin that received middling reviews. 1993 saw “Sleepless in Seattle”, reteaming Ryan with both Nora Ephron and Tom Hanks. The film was a critical and commercial smash, grossing well over $ 200,000,000 during its run.
The ’90s were a purple patch and a string of successful romantic comedies and dramas followed, such as “French Kiss” with Kevin Kline, “I.Q.” with Tim Robbins and Walter Matthau, and “Addicted To Love” with Matthew Broderick. Ryan tried to prevent typecasting by starring in small indie films such as “Flesh And Bone”, with her husband Dennis Quaid, and “Restoration”, with Sam Neill and Robert Downey Jr. Most of these films were largely overlooked by audiences and critics alike.
By 1998 and “You’ve Got Mail”, Ryan was well and truly America’s Sweetheart and was making close to $ 10,000,000 per film. “City of Angels”, which she headline alongside Nicolas Cage, earned over $ 200,000,000 at the box-office.
In 2001, eager to avoid further typecasting, Ryan signed on for “Proof Of Life”, an action thriller that paired her with Russell Crowe. During the production, the two engaged in an affair that became the subject of tabloid inquiry. Ryan was, at the time, still married to Dennis Quaid. The two would later divorce that year whilst the film received poor reviews and failed to recoup its budget. Later the actress decided to split up with Russel Crowe, in a controversial end of relationship, tarnishing of her public image.
Ryan returned in 2001, with “Kate & Leopold”, another romantic-fantasy-comedy with Hugh Jackman about a time-traveler. The film was widely panned and just barely recouped its production budget. “Kate & Leopold” would be the last wide-released, mainstream film Ryan would star in. She appeared in numerous independent dramas from 2004 onwards, but none were particularly well-received by critics.
Despite Meg Ryan’s consistent attempts to move away from the good-girl archetype in her career, it seemed impossible for her to avoid typecasting. To the world, the actress was seen as the ultimate girl next door. She was labelled by many as “America’s Sweetheart”. But Ryan always had mixed feelings about the labels. “I understood it was a compliment about being lovable,” Ryan told InStyleof the public’s perception of her. “But it also felt like ideas were being projected onto me that had nothing to do with me. The girl next door to what? I never felt like a very conventional person.”
That good-girl archetype was entirely blown to pieces when Meg Ryan starred alongside Mark Ruffalo in 2003 with “In the Cut”. The racy thriller, which featured several sex scenes, followed Ryan’s character, a school teacher, who was having an affair with a police detective.
“I felt like I was behind a window looking at my life”.Meg Ryan
The arrival of the 21st century did not bring any box office triumphs anymore, though. The brilliance of her stardom her began to fade. After “In the Cut” and “Against the Ropes” failed at the box office and her personal life dominated the tabloids, Meg Ryan grew burned out by being an actress. “I was burned out. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated,” she told The New York Times Magazine. The actress also shared that she found fame exhausting. “I felt like I was behind a window looking at my life,” she added.
In 2015, Ryan released her first movie as a director, “Ithaca”. Besides directing the film, Ryan also had a role in the film alongside Tom Hanks and her son, Jack Quaid. The motion picture was not well received by critics and audiences.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Ryan shared that she doesn’t believe she would be an actress if she was starting out her career in 2020. “If I started my career today, I wouldn’t have a chance,” she admitted.
Despite her best efforts from her, it’s hard to know precisely what happened to Meg Ryan promising career that fell out. I miss her presence on the big screens. What is your opinion about it?