Meg Ryan was once the queen of romantic comedies, “America’s Sweetheart”, and an A-list celebrity, but now it seems she’s left the spotlight entirely. She’s barely made a blip on the big screen in the last ten years at all, so what happened?
Meg first came on our radar in the popular 1980s daytime soap opera As The World Turns as Betsy Stewart Andropoulos, and then made the jump to film in the classic hit Top Gun, playing Goose’s wife. It was this role that many began to see her as a rising actress to watch.
However, it wouldn’t be until 1989’s When Harry Met Sally with Billy Crystal that Meg would be crowned a rom-com queen. After all, who could forget that famous fake orgasm scene in Katz ‘s Delicatessen? Check it out below:
The success of that film allowed the director, Norah Ephron, to label Meg as “America’s sweetheart” and the two would go on to work together on several more successful romantic comedy movies in the 90s, including Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, both starring opposite Tom Hanks.
Meg’s career and celebrity status really peaked in the mid to late 90s when she was crowned one of People Magazine‘s most beautiful people and stared in the 1998 box office smash City of Angels with Nicholas Cage.
Film critic Roger Ebert hailed praised Meg’s acting in the movie, writing, “Meg Ryan is so sunny and persuasive… This is one of her best performances.” Unfortunately, her career would begin its downward spiral in the naughties.
Meg’s choice in future film roles would prove to be poor, selecting parts in the flops Hanging Up and Proof of Life. Her personal life was also falling apart as she separated from her husband, Denis Quaid.
The reason for their failed marriage was also blamed on Meg, at least publically, due to a rumored affair with her Proof of Life co-star, Russel Crowe. Later, Meg Ryan would defend herself, telling Us Weekly that the situation was much more complicated.
“Dennis was not faithful to me for a very long time, and that was very painful. I found out more about that after I was divorced… [But] I am not a victim. I was there. I was in that marriage for a really long time… The tabloid culture can’t tell a complicated story,” she revealed.
However, the messy divorce damaged her reputation as “America’s sweetheart” and public support for Meg was dwindling. Critics were now panning the former rom-com queen’s acting chops, claiming she lacked chemistry and offered sub-par performances.
The only bright spot would be 2001’s Kate & Leopold, which helped put Hugh Jackman’s star on the map and brought in $70 million at the box office, but it was still a far cry from the $200 million dollar films Meg was starring in only a few years prior.
After a few more flops, Meg took a three-year acting hiatus before returning for 2007’s In The Land Of Women, which the Los Angeles Times called “the best work [she] has done in forever.”
However, just when it looked like she would make a comeback, Meg’s next two movies flopped so badly that they were straight to DVD releases. It was at this point Meg took a break from the spotlight altogether to raise her children in New York City.
Meg even confessed that she never really wanted to be a celebrity, claiming she preferred to lie low. “I didn’t have to care what people thought. I have gotten to do what I guess I secretly wanted to do. Be totally under the radar and live my life,” she said.
Although she may have left the spotlight, Meg hasn’t left Hollywood entirely. She had been scheduled to do some television voiceover work, and in 2015 made her directorial debut with Ithaca.
“Once you do it, you get the bug… I like the behind-the-scenes thing. I really do. Acting for a while was really fun and it still is—but directing is something even more,” she said.
While we may miss her in front of the camera, we wish her all the best with her future endeavors!
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