Meg Ryan

The star burned white hot for actress Meg Ryan from the mid-’80s and throughout the decade of the ’90s. It was a time when she garnered the label “America’s Sweetheart”. She was pulling down role after role, making hits out of various romantic comedies with leading men such as Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal. But then Meg Ryan’s star began to fade.

Meg Ryan has stepped away from acting and was noticeably absent from a recent sequel that could have included her character.


These days Meg Ryan stays out of the limelight. She actively supports the career of her son Jack Quaid with posts like this…

And every now and then she shows up at awards shows like this…

And when it comes to work, Meg Ryan told InStyle Magazine back in 2019, “Now I’m focused on producing. I’m also teeing myself up to direct, and I’m working on a fun e-commerce project with some of my friends. But most of all, what I’m ambitious for in the 12 hours a day that I’m awake is my kids’ happiness. I just am.”

Her personal life is still a balancing act as she continues an off-and-on with rocker John Mellencamp and while Meg Ryan has stated she isn’t officially done with Hollywood, it remains to be seen if Hollywood is done with her.


Early Ryan

When Tom Cruise and Top Gun: Maverick hit the big screen there were a number of callbacks to the original movie. Really, the whole film is one big reference to the first one. And we did see some folks like Val Kilmer get back into the mix. But one noticeable omission from the film was Meg Ryan who had played Carole Bradshaw, wife of Anthony Edwards’ Goose in the original.

With Miles Teller on as Goose’s son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, it would have seemed fitting to bring Meg Ryan back into the fold, at least for a cameo. But that didn’t happen other than archival footage from the first as part of Maverick’s memory.

It was explained in the film that Meg Ryan’s character had actually passed away though she had been against Rooster following in his father’s footsteps. This was part of the reason Tom Cruise and Miles Teller’s characters were at odds in the flick, with the former working to block the latter from joining the Navy.


Meg Ryan and Scott Bryce on As the World Turns

Meg Ryan’s career began early and with bit parts. She starred in Amityville 3-D then moved on to the soap opera As The World Turns. After her two-year stint on the soap opera, Ryan appeared in two TV series, Charles in Charge and Wildside but it wasn’t until her minor role in a little movie some may have heard of, Top Gun, that began to open the eyes of those in Hollywood. While the role as Goose’s wife Carole (“Hey Goose, you big stud! Take me to bed or lose me forever!”) was just a tiny part, it was effective.

Her screen time was expanded in her next movie, Armed and Dangerous, that starred John Candy and Eugene Levy. Innerspace came next and it was this movie where she met her future (now ex) husband Dennis Quaid, with whom she has one child, actor Jack Quaid. Little did she know at the time, Meg Ryan was beginning to lay the groundwork in becoming Hollywood’s darling actress and America’s Sweetheart.


Coming off a positive performance in the drama Promised Land and two thrillers D.O.A. (which she again starred in with Dennis Quaid) and The Presidio, Ryan hit it big with the rom-com When Harry Met Sally. The rapport she had with the movie’s co-star Billy Crystal was fun to watch. In this movie, Meg Ryan delivers one of the most famous and memorable movie scenes in Hollywood history, the restaurant’s fake orgasm scene.

If she wasn’t on the map before then, she definitely was after that. So the parts began to roll in. She starred in her first of four movies with Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano. 1991 was a big year for Ryan because that was the year she played opposite Val Kilmer’s Jim Morrison in The Doors but it also saw her personal life take off, as she married Dennis Quaid.


Meg and Tom Hanks

The hits, and more importantly her choices in movies, kept coming up big for Meg Ryan. Her second movie with Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle, was another huge hit for Ryan, fully cementing her status as America’s Sweetheart.

During the decade of the ’90s, Ryan starred in a litany of romantic comedies. Prelude To A Kiss, I.Q., French Kiss, and of course her third movie with Tom Hanks, You’ve Got Mail. During this time, Ryan did attempt to sprinkle in a few dramatic roles which were also met with some success. Then came the new decade, the 2000’s, and Ryan’s life as America’s Sweetheart began to take its turn.


The year 2000 saw Meg Ryan star in a movie, Proof of Life, with Russell Crowe, the notorious bad boy of Hollywood. Rumors of an affair between the two began and never did let up. When those rumors became reality, Ryan’s star faded and it seemed either the choices she made for movie roles or Hollywood’s offerings became less glamorous and more gritty.

Then came the movie where Meg Ryan felt things truly began to change for the worst. She starred in an erotic thriller with Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Jason Leigh called In The Cut, which was written and directed by the notoriously edgy Jane Campion (The Piano). The movie is set in New York and in it, Ryan portrays a NY writing professor who has an affair with a NY detective (Ruffalo) while he is investigating a murder.

Meg Ryan
Scene from In the Cut

The movie itself was critically panned but it was better known for the full-frontal nudity of both stars, Ryan and Ruffalo. Meg Ryan took a bigger hit critically and she spoke about it to the New York Times Magazine. “In the Cut felt like a real turning point,” she acknowledged. “I know that when I did In the Cut, the reaction was vicious,” she said. “I think the feeling with Hollywood was mutual. I felt done when they felt done, probably.”

Ryan wasn’t completely done though. She followed In The Cut with a movie called Against The Ropes but sadly the writing was on the wall. The opportunities became less and less, the roles not as glamorous and it seemed the feeling was becoming mutual. Her personal life had fallen apart, as did her marriage to Quaid.

Serious moonlight
Meg Ryan in Serious Moonlight

Meg Ryan’s last true movie was made a decade ago, the little-known Serious Moonlight, and she has remained out of the spotlight for the past decade. In 2015 Ryan tried her hand at directing, with her debut in the movie Ithaca, which saw her appear for the fourth time with co-star Tom Hanks. In fact, it was Hanks’ production company, Playtone, that helped put the movie together. Again, this is a little-known piece and once again, Ryan has remained quiet on the acting front.

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