|Born||Margaret Mary Emily Hyra
November 19, 1961
Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Dennis Quaid (1991–2001)|
|Children||Jack Henry Quaid
Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (born November 19, 1961), known professionally as Meg Ryan, is an American actress and producer. After playing several minor roles in film and television, Ryan got the leading female role in When Harry Met Sally.... Over the next 15 years, she played leading roles in several romantic-comedy films, including Sleepless in Seattle (1993), French Kiss (1995), Addicted to Love (1997), City of Angels (1998), You've Got Mail (1998), and Kate & Leopold (2001), films which together grossed a total of more than $870 million worldwide. In 1995, Time critic Richard Corliss called her "the current soul of romantic comedy."
Ryan was born in Fairfield, Connecticut, the daughter of Susan Jordan (née Ryan) – a former actress and English teacher – and Harry Hyra, a math teacher. Both Susan and Harry were raised in Fairfield. Ryan's mother had appeared in a television commercial and had later briefly worked as an assistant casting director in New York City. She supported and encouraged her young daughter's acting studies. Ryan has two sisters, Dana and Annie, and a brother, the musician Andrew Hyra, a member of the band Billy Pilgrim. Her parents divorced in 1976, when she was 15 years old. Ryan has Irish and Polish ancestry (her surname, "Hyra", originates in Poland). She was raised a Roman Catholic and graduated from St. Pius X Elementary School in Fairfield, where her mother taught sixth grade. Ryan graduated from Bethel High School in 1979. She went on to study journalism as an undergraduate, first at the University of Connecticut and then at New York University. During college, she acted in television commercials to earn extra money. She dropped out of college a semester before she would have graduated and has said this decision was due to her success as an actress.
After her film debut in George Cukor's Rich and Famous, Ryan played Betsy Stewart in the daytime drama As the World Turns, from 1982 to 1984, and her character was featured in a popular romantic story arc. Around that same time, she appeared in a Burger King commercial. Several television film and smaller film roles followed, including Amityville 3-D and Promised Land; for her role in the latter she received her first Independent Spirit Award nomination. In 1986, she played Carole Bradshaw, the wife of Naval Flight Officer Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (played by Anthony Edwards) in Top Gun. Ryan starred in the film Innerspace with her future husband Dennis Quaid, then in the remake of D.O.A. and in The Presidio.
Her first leading role was the romantic comedy film When Harry Met Sally... (1989), which paired her with comedic leading man Billy Crystal. Her memorable portrayal of Sally Albright, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, famously included a now-iconic scene in which her character, while lunching with Crystal's character in Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan, very theatrically demonstrates for him how easy it is to fake an orgasm. Ryan next starred in The Doors, which was moderately successful, and Prelude to a Kiss, which flopped. The year 1993 saw the release of the hugely successful romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, which paired Ryan for the second time with Tom Hanks. They had previously been paired as romantic leads in the film Joe Versus the Volcano, which was a commercial disappointment, but later developed a cult following—and they would later be paired for a third time in the film You've Got Mail. She also starred again with Dennis Quaid in Flesh and Bone.
In 1994, Ryan wanted to break away from being typecast and chose to take on several roles that were different from the romantic-comedy ingenue character for which she had become famous. In Luis Mandoki's When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), a romantic social drama film also starring Andy Garcia, she played an alcoholic high-school guidance counselor. The film and her performance were both well received by critics. For example, one critic called the film "a first-class production, accentuated by fine performances and an unflinching script." Another praised Ryan for her performance of a "roller-coaster role." The film was a notable success in its domestic run, grossing $50 million in the United States alone, and garnered the actress her first Screen Actors Guild Award. The same year, Ryan starred alongside Tim Robbins in Fred Schepisi's romantic comedy I.Q. (1994). The film centres on a mechanic and a Princeton doctoral candidate who falls in love, thanks to the graduate student's uncle, Albert Einstein, played by Walter Matthau.(Despite borrowing some of its characters, such as Einstein, from real life, the film's story and its portrayal of those characters is completely fictional.)
Some of her films of the 1990s were hits not only in North America, but also internationally. In 1994, Ryan won Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, and People Magazine dubbed her one of "the 50 most beautiful people in the world." In 1995, critic Richard Corliss called her "the current soul of romantic comedy." That same year, she appeared opposite Kevin Kline in Lawrence Kasdan's French Kiss, a romantic comedy that catered to her "America's Sweetheart" image, and Ryan was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award. (This award is given to "outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.") In 1997, Ryan voiced the lead role in the animated film Anastasia, which garnered good reviews and enjoyed box office success. In 1998, she starred in two films. City of Angels drew positive reviews and became a financial success, topping nearly $200 million worldwide. You've Got Mail once again paired Ryan with Hanks, earning her a third Golden Globe nomination and making over $250 million worldwide. She also appeared in 1998's Hurlyburly with Sean Penn.
Ryan's first film of the 2000s was Hanging Up, a Diane Keaton-directed family comedy-drama about a trio of sisters who bond over their ambivalence toward the approaching death of their distant, curmudgeonly father. Also starring Keaton, Lisa Kudrow, and Walter Matthau, the film adaptation of Delia Ephron's 1995 novel received poor reviews by critics, and grossed slightly over $51 million, falling $9 million short of recouping its budget of $60 million.
The same year, Ryan was cast in the action thriller Proof of Life with Russell Crowe, directed by Taylor Hackford. In the film, she portrayed the distraught wife of a kidnapped engineer, played by David Morse, while relying on a resourceful troubleshooter who makes a profession of dealing with international bandits. While the film became a lukewarm critical and commercial success, grossing $63 million worldwide, it garnered much reportage in the tabloid press in association with Ryan and Crowe's affair. Stephen Holden, film critic for The New York Times, did not think the film worked well and opined that the actors did not connect.
A year later, she once again returned to her romantic comedy roots with Kate & Leopold (2001), alongside Hugh Jackman. A film about a duke who travels through time from New York in 1876 to the present and falls in love with a successful market researcher in the modern New York, the James Mangold-directed film received a mixed-to-positive response, with Lael Loewenstein of Variety summing it as "a mostly charming and diverting tale." At a total gross of $70 million, it would eventually remain Ryan's highest-grossing film of the decade.
In 2003, Ryan broke away from her usual roles, starring alongside Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Jane Campion's erotic thriller film In the Cut. Originally, co-producer Nicole Kidman was cast in the lead, but the actress eventually dropped out after five years of development, leaving the role to Ryan, who appeared nude in a lengthy and rather graphic love scene for the first time in her career. Although her image-conflicting depiction earned Ryan and the film much media attention, the film failed with critics and grossed only $23 million in theaters.
In October 2003, while in the UK to promote In the Cut, Ryan made a controversial appearance on Parkinson. She followed this strategy with a leading role in Charles S. Dutton's directorial debut Against the Ropes (2004). A fictionalized sport drama about American boxing manager Jackie Kallen, who was the first woman to become a success in the sport, and her rocky relationship with protege Luther Shaw. The film grossed less than $6 million in the U.S. and was panned by critics, in part because of its resemblance to other boxing films, such as the Rocky series.
Following a three-year hiatus, Ryan returned to film with Jon Kasdan's 2007 independent film In the Land of Women, a film she described as "kind of like The Graduate, but with cancer". Starring alongside Kristen Stewart and Olympia Dukakis, she played Sarah Hardwicke, a mother and wife facing breast cancer, who connects with her neighbor's much younger grandson, played by Adam Brody. Released to mixed reviews by critics, the film grossed $17.5 million worldwide, exceeding its budget of $10 million. Ryan received a positive response for her performance, with Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times noting it "the best work [she] has done in forever".
Ryan's first film release of 2008 was The Deal, a satirical comedy film based on Peter Lefcourt's 1991 novel of the same title about Hollywood. Directed by Steven Schachter and co-starring William H. Macy, the film was shot in Cape Town and other South African locations and celebrated its world premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Garnering generally mixed to negative reviews, it failed to draw interest among film studios, resulting in a straight-to-DVD release in January 2009. In his review for Variety, Peter Debruge said, "The characters seem to be doing all the laughing, while the general public has nothing to cling to but the horndog flirtation between mismatched leads William H. Macy and Meg Ryan—hardly ideal ingredients for mainstream success." Already shot in fall of 2006, George Gallo's film My Mom's New Boyfriend, in which Ryan starred also went direct-to-DVD in 2008. Co-starring Colin Hanks, Selma Blair, and Antonio Banderas, the action comedy received overwhelmingly negative reviews, with David Nusair of Reel Film noting it "an unmitigated disaster virtually from its opening frames".
Ryan's last film of 2008 was The Women, a remake of the 1939 production. The all-female cast comprises Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith. Written, produced and directed by Diane English, the film centers on a group of four female Manhattan socialites whose primary interest is idle gossip, with Ryan portraying a wealthy woman whose husband is cheating on her with a shop girl, played by Eva Mendes. Ryan was the first actress to join the long-delayed production, which struggled to find financing since the early 1990s, resulting in an independent production budgeted at $18 million. Upon its release, The Women received a disastrous response from critics, with Richard Schickel of Time calling it "one of the worst movies I've ever seen". The film was a financial success, however, becoming Ryan's most successful film since 2001's Kate & Leopold with a worldwide gross of $50 million.
In 2009, Ryan starred alongside Kristen Bell and Justin Long in the independent comedy film Serious Moonlight. In this film, directed by actress Cheryl Hines and based on a screenplay by late writer Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered a year prior to filming, Ryan portrayed a high-powered female attorney who learns that her husband, played by Timothy Hutton, is about to leave their troubled marriage, and decides to hold him captive by duct-taping him to a toilet. Picked up by Magnolia Pictures, the production received a limited release throughout North America only, and grossed less than $150,000 worldwide. Critical reaction to the film was generally mixed-to-negative, although Ryan was praised for her "terrific" performance. Also in 2009, Ryan guest-starred on the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In October 2010, she was cast in the ensemble drama Lives of The Saints alongside Kat Dennings, Kevin Zegers and John Lithgow. The drama, similar in style to Crash, interweaves the lives of a group of Los Angeles residents who are all struggling with past mistakes. In April 2011, it was announced that Ryan would make her feature film directing debut with a film titled Into the Beautiful. In May 2011 she was cast in Long Time Gone, a film adaptation of the April Stevens novel Angel Angel, with filming projected to begin that fall. Ryan was later replaced in the part.
In 2012, Ryan was featured in the documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide premiering on PBS October 1. The series introduces women and girls living under difficult circumstances and fighting to challenge them. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films. Ryan's audiobook recording of William Saroyan's The Human Comedy was released at Audible.com.
Ryan married actor Dennis Quaid on Valentine's Day 1991, after starring in three films with him (D.O.A., Innerspace and Flesh and Bones). She agreed to marry him only after he kicked his cocaine addiction. Quaid and Ryan have one child together, Jack Quaid, born April 24, 1992. In 2000, she became involved with Russell Crowe on the set of Proof of Life. She and Quaid separated and their divorce became final on July 16, 2001. In September 2008, Ryan stated that Quaid had been unfaithful to her for a long time while they were married. In January 2006, Ryan adopted a 14-month-old girl from China named Daisy True. As of November 2010, she is in a relationship with American rock singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, who announced on December 30, 2010 that he and his wife, Elaine Irwin Mellencamp, were divorcing after 18 years of marriage.
Ryan has supported the Democratic Party, especially its environmental protection programs and initiatives. In 2003, she supported Wesley Clark's campaign for U.S. president. She supported John Kerry during the 2004 presidential elections.
|1982||As the World Turns||Betsy Stewart Montgomery Andropoulos||2 years|
|1982||ABC Afterschool Special||Denise||Episode "Amy and the Angel"|
|1982||One of the Boys||Jane||Series cancelled after 13 episodes|
|1984–1985||Charles in Charge||Megan Harper||2 episodes|
|1985||Wildside||Cally Oaks||6 episodes|
|1990–1991||Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Dr. Blight||Voice, Cast member|
|2007||Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons||Dr. Swanson||Voice, 1 episode Yokel Chords|
|2009||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Herself||Season 7|
|2011||Web Therapy||Karen Sharpe||2 episodes|
|2013||Web Therapy||Karen Sharpe||3 episodes|
|2014||How I Met Your Dad||Future Sally||Main Cast Member|
|1994||Century of Cinema, AA Century of Cinema||Herself||Documentary with film personalities.|
|2002||Searching for Debra Winger||Herself||Rosanna Arquette film|
|2012||Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide||Herself|
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