Meg Ryan was one of the most prominent faces in Hollywood in the ’90s and has starred in some of the most revered romantic comedies of all time. Over the years, she’s taken a backseat from the spotlight, and with a career spanning over 40 years, has definitely deserved it.
Born Margaret Mary Hyra, the American actress shot to worldwide fame after starring in the classic 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally alongside Billy Crystal. Her performance in the film was lauded and scored her her first Golden Globe nomination. Ryan’s career initially took off when she was cast in the long-running CBS drama As the World Turns, and received her first Independent Spirit Award nomination for her role in the 1987 drama Promised Land.
Throughout the ’90s, the actress became one of Hollywood’s go-to leading ladies for romantic comedies. She and Tom Hanks were paired up three times in the films Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail, with Sleepless becoming one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful romantic comedies in history. Ryan’s other romantic comedies include When a Man Loves a Woman, French Kiss, and Kate and Leopold.
In the early 2000s, her career suffered from some turbulence in her personal life. She ended her decade-long marriage to fellow actor Dennis Quaid and shifted into more dramatic roles, most of which were not well-received. She stirred up a ton of controversy after starring in the 2003 erotic thriller In the Cut, in which she was filmed in the nude for a lengthy amount of time. Regardless of the buzz garnered for the film, it performed poorly at the box office and failed to resonate with critics.
In 2019, Ryan later revealed to The New York Times that she was taken aback by the negative reception she and the film received.
“But I know that when I did In the Cut, the reaction was vicious. I feel like that might’ve been the last movie I did. I was surprised by the negative reaction.”
After a three-year hiatus, Ryan returned in 2007 with the independent film In the Land of Women, and while the film received a mixed reception, Ryan’s emotional performance was singled out and praised. She continued on the independent film path, starring in the films The Women, The Deal, and Serious Moonlight, all of which failed to resonate with critics.
Ryan took another hiatus and made a comeback four years later in 2013 with the comedy series Web Therapy, starring in five episodes. Her next appearance was in 2015 with the film Fan Girl, and in the same year, she made her directing debut with the drama Ithaca, reuniting once again with Tom Hanks.
Speaking on her withdrawal from the spotlight, Ryan also revealed in the aforementioned interview with The New York Times that she had lost her passion for acting and was ready to explore other avenues.
“I wasn’t as curious about acting as I was about other things that life can give you. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated. I wanted to live more. I’m not complaining – there are so many advantages to being famous – but there are fundamental disadvantages for a part of your brain, your self, your soul.”
What is Meg Ryan up to now?
Fans can rejoice, as the Hollywood legend is set to make her comeback to romantic comedies sometime next year. Ryan will star opposite David Duchovny in the upcoming film What Happens Later. She confirmed the announcement on Instagram, sharing the movie’s poster and captioning the post, “HERE WE GO!!”
She had previously admitted in 2019 that romantic comedies were her strong suit.
“[Rom-coms were] probably [my strong suit]. I liked doing the alcoholic in When a Man Loves a Woman; I liked doing In the Cut; but I was very happy going to a set that was about: How do you find the funny thing? I like that again now, working on a romantic comedy.”
It looks like the actress has caught the acting bug once more after taking time off from the hubbub of Hollywood to focus on herself and her family. What Happens Later is based on the play Shooting Star by Steven Dietz, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ryan and Kirk Lynn.