From ‘When Harry Met Sally’, to ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, to ‘You’ve Got Mail’: the list of blockbusters with Meg Ryan (57) is too long to list completely. In the 90s the actress belonged to the elite of Hollywood stars and was overrun with roles and offers. But in the meantime, the tide has been turning for years, and no one wants to cast Meg for any significant roles. Where did it go wrong?
First, she was called ‘America’s Sweetheart’, then she was labeled as an adulterous adulteress, now she is regarded as not much more than an actress who got lost. The Meg Ryan story reads like a true Hollywood tragedy. In the 90s in particular, the adorable Ryan warmed the hearts of viewers as a rom-com queen. Meg managed to play a role for the first time in 1982 when she appeared as Betsy Stewart in the soap opera “As the World Turns.”
However, her career really got off the ground with her role in the classic ‘Top Gun’. Although she didn’t have many scenes in the film, Ryan splashed off the screen and was immediately called an actress to keep an eye on.
Meg gave up her school career not much later to be able to fully focus on acting. After ‘Top Gun’ she played in at least one successful film every year, such as ‘Innerspace’ in 1987 and ‘The Presidio’ in 1988. On the set of ‘Innerspace’, she also met Dennis Quaid, her later husband. With an acting career that was constantly on the rise and a new Hollywood boyfriend to make all the red carpet unsafe, everyone started to look up at Meg Ryan’s actions. And then she didn’t know it would just get better.
Because in 1989 the big break came when Meg Ryan appeared next to Billy Crystal in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. It is the role that Ryan’s career defined. In the years that followed, she got hold of one role after the other, such as in “Joe Versus The Volcano” and “Prelude To A Kiss.” In 1993, Ryan was catapulted to the top again, with her role in ‘Sleepless In Seattle’, a film that raised more than 200 million.
But where did it go wrong? Megan’s image received a first but serious dent when she was accused by the media of adultery. The gossip magazines caught her and her colleague Russell Crowe together, and published photos of the two. The fact that Meg had an eight-year-old son at the time only attracted more attention. Ryan withdrew from the spotlight after the scandal. However, it would take another 10 years for her to tell her side of the story.
“I was treated like a prostitute,” she said later. Ryan was particularly upset by the public reaction to the scandal. Her marriage with Quaid was, she said, already over when she had the affair. Meg also noted that the actor himself picked up with other women, and emphasized that women in Hollywood are held to a different standard than their male colleagues.
She was tired of it
Meg turned the whole situation around. Her relationship with the media had changed forever, opening her eyes. Meg was completely done with how Hollywood works. “I don’t care what people think of me,” she said. “I have to do what I think I always wanted to do secretly. Completely disappear from the globe and just live my life.”
She was also fed up with the many stamps, such as “America’s sweetheart” and the girl next door. “It felt like ideas were being projected on me that had nothing to do with me. The girl next door of what? I have never been able to feel like a normal person”, it sounded. Her new attitude ensured that filmmakers and directors stopped the boat.
And then there is all the fuss about plastic surgery. The way the press described Ryan’s changing appearance also contributed to her “disappearance.” Every time the actress appeared on some red carpet, it rained articles and speculations about her plastic interventions. And that certainly left its mark.
“There is a lot of hatred in the world nowadays. It is so easy to judge others. Imagine being such a hater, how stupid can you be,” she said. “People I appreciate talk about their growing children, what kind of world they will end up in, what we’ll eat, what we’ll breathe. If I started my career today, I wouldn’t stand a chance. Social media have changed things. It is so big and big. I can’t handle that constant attention and judgments.”
The chance that you will see Meg working on the screen, is getting smaller. She intensely enjoys her role as a mother in New York and is far from planning to turn her back on that life. “I never really defined myself as an actress,” she recently told a film festival. “I think I am a writer in my heart. If you are an actor, you are a cog. If you create something yourself, you understand the other gears. I am now in first gear. I am happy that I was able to make that ‘airless’ bubble of rich Hollywood people splash.