Meg Ryan: ‘I never wanted to be an actress… I was lucky’

AFI Life Achievement Award Gala

I’ve always liked Meg Ryan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen When Harry Met Sally and I adored Prelude to a Kiss. I spent a lot of my college years watching her on the big screen. She’s 56, and while she may have gotten a bit over enthusiastic with the fillers and surgery and such, she looks great now. I like Meg so much that I will give her the barest sliver of a pass for showing up at Gwyneth Paltrow’s “In Goop Health” (ugh) event over the weekend. If stars keep showing up for Goop, it’s just going to encourage her, but I digress.

During a one-on-one Q&A at the event, Meg opened up to her former co-star (they starred together in 1993’s Flesh and Bone). She talked about her career, her family and being labeled “America’s Sweetheart.” When discussing that label, Meg shared:

“You’re either intelligent or sexual or maternal, and I really feel like we’re at a time where those borders are coming down, and it’s coming with a lot of cultural upheaval in a way. In a certain respect, everyone in the culture is very comfortable with you in one archetype.”

“For the most part, I had a lot of fun. I never wanted to be an actress. The whole idea of being a famous person…I felt like a witness to, I didn’t feel exactly in it, and I think that was a really good thing. I felt like a student of it in a way, or that I was watching it in an anthropological way.”

“When you’re a famous person, there’s a certain degree of blankness that needs to happen so that people can project on you. Despite what you may think, people don’t really want to know all that much about you. They want to imagine the best or the worst. So when you’re caught in that, it really is interesting because you get reactions that have almost nothing to do with you and some that have everything to do with you, and you have to be this jiu-jitsu master to figure out what mirror you should actually be looking in.”

“Life is subtle, people are complex, and the world is obviously complex, and tabloid journalism and headlines, those are not. Tweets, those are not. When you get labeled anything like ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ I didn’t even know what that meant. Nora Ephron’s parents wrote scripts in old Hollywood and there was such a thing as America’s Sweetheart in the ’40s and she decided to say that about me one day and I remember thinking, ‘Is that good?'”

After a string of popular movies, Meg stepped away from the spotlight. She admitted that she felt she was going through “a really reactive time,” adding that was “kind of why I stepped away about 10 years ago.” She went on to add:

“I didn’t really aim to be an actor, I was a journalism major at school, and a curious person, and I wanted to go back out into the world and figure out who I was—am—in relationship to other things and other people and other environments.”

[Quotes via E! News]

I hope that this means that Meg is pondering a comeback. I have missed her. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and she’s keeping her personal life on the down low, raising her 13-year-old daughter Daisy Ryan and still dating John Mellencamp. Look at some of the recent project featuring strong, smart women who aren’t in their late 20s/early 30s. I think the time is ripe for Meg’s return to the big screen.

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52 Responses to “Meg Ryan: ‘I never wanted to be an actress… I was lucky’”

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  1. Maum says:

    That trout pout…. she really has ruined her face.

    • holly hobby says:

      Yeah I guess it can’t go back to what it used to look like 🙁

    • aenflex says:

      I love her. I love her movies. Especially WHMS. But even the cheesy ones.

      I wish she never did that to her face. I don’t agree that she looks better now. Her face was perfect before all this. She lost what made her her. It’s sad.

  2. Elisabeth says:

    she was so pretty and she totally wrecked her face.

  3. harla says:

    I haven’t seen many of her films, except When Harry Met Sally which I love, but doesn’t she play the same type of character over and over? I’ve often thought the same about several actors and actresses, they only play one character but yet they are very famous and supposedly very talented, I just don’t get it.

    • girl_ninja says:

      You should watch her other films, she is talented actor and works with what she’s got.

    • Juju says:

      @Harla- I recommend “You’ve Got Mail”. I reluctantly watched it one day and was surprised by how authentic and charismatic she was in that movie. There was a somber side to her that I wasn’t expecting in a typical rom com.

    • wildflower says:

      @Harla- I personally love “Sleepless In Seattle” as well.

    • holly hobby says:

      She used to be on One Life to Live. I believe she was pigeon holed but yeah she had range. She was also Goose’s wife in Top Gun. I didn’t even realize that was her until I read the credits.

      • Sister Carrie says:

        she stole every scene . . . great performance with cliche material

      • Mari With An I says:

        She was on As the Wirld Turns as well, playing Betsy Stewart. Her love interest was Steve, but Craig schemed to steal her away. My grandmother watched everyday when I got home from school. When the world was turning, Grandmother’s world stopped for an hour. Great childhood memories.

    • Harryg says:

      She’s been very good in serious roles, in my opinion, and I always liked her in romantic comedies too. What bothered me a bit was that in the goofy roles her character always had a silly “victory dance” moment, like really over the top, stretching and stomping and yelping.

    • harla says:

      Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!! Looks like I’ll have to plan a Meg Ryan movie marathon some weekend soon!

      • Carrie1 says:

        Check out In the Cut too. It was a departure for her but I thought she was really good in that also. And the one with Hugh Jackman… name escapes me

        Ohhhh an all time fav, City of Angels!

      • Doodle says:

        The one with Hugh Jackson is Kate and Leopold. Love it!

      • Jan90067(aka imqrious2) says:

        OMG City of Angels… SO AMAZING!!!! I cried so much … sigh… great movie!

      • jaylee says:

        Add French Kiss to the list!

      • Macscore says:

        Wasn’t she also in “Proof of Life” with Russell Crowe? (If it wasn’t her, it was another actress wearing clunky shoes). 😉 (Seriously – she was in that – and that’s when their relationship started and he gave her a red car. Isn’t is mad how we remember the most bizarre trivia?)
        What happened to her son – Jack – with Dennis Quaid?

  4. Dee says:

    I like her cool boots. And it’s brave of her to come out when people can’t help saying shitty things about her face.

    • Esmom says:

      I like her boots, too, she has a distinct, quirky style that’s never seemed try-hard.

      Goop’s flip flops, though? Eek.

    • harla says:

      I always try to pair a floaty, feminine dress with some pair of clunky, chunky boots that way I can be girly without being too girly 🙂

  5. CTwinter says:

    Her shiny and tight face is just strange.

  6. tw says:

    I agree with her. We are quick to simplify and label.

    And on a separate note – did the Goop event invite specify dress code as “floral dress with questionable shoe choice”?

  7. Diana says:

    She’s still very pretty and looks a lot like Olivia Newton John!

  8. Melania says:

    Meg Ryan was so beautiful. It’s a pity that she has ruined her face

    • Nancy says:

      She sure did. A lot of the celebs in the 50-60 plus age range now have that same scrunched in face. She messed herself up a long time ago. I think the procedures now aren’t as radical. Shame, she had that la di da fresh girl look then turned herself into Baby Jane.

      • Carrie1 says:

        I’m not convinced that’s surgery work. Look at her son Jack. They look exactly alike.

        As we age our faces settle and morph in different ways. Noses and lips get bigger for some. If she’d had plastic surgery she’d look more like her young self for sure, but this is natural aging with Botox probably.

        I’m always a fan of her and happy to see her coming out more. It felt like she went through hell after that Quaid marriage and the jerk Russell Crowe.

  9. Jker says:

    I love her and hope to see more of her. Unfortunate face work may distract but it doesn’t negate her ‘It’ factor, and she has genuine charisma in spades.

    I’ll save my snark for someone more deserving.

  10. Malachite says:

    Meg Ryan was everywhere when I was a kid. I remember reading my mom’s People magazines and being enthralled by her beauty. When Harry Met Sally may be the only rom-com I have ever enjoyed.

    But, honestly, I don’t think I would have recognized her in some of these photos had they not been identified. It is quite shocking to me.

  11. elimaeby says:

    She looks like a clone of Olivia Newton John to me. Not a good or bad thing.

    • holly hobby says:

      OJN didn’t even look like OJN. I think doctors only know how to do one face. Another reason worth mentioning was she dropped out because she had a torrid affair with Russell Crowe and America skewered her for it. Obviously Rusty went on to Oscar acclaim. Not fair right?

  12. KiddV says:

    She’s looking much better! I’ve been watching Meg Ryan since she was Betsy on As the World Turns in the 80’s. I was bed-ridden the last 4 months of my pregnancy and got hooked on ATWT, and The Young and the Restless.

    She doesn’t look that much different now. Her nose is a little thinner and lips are a slight mess, but her eyes and skin look the same.

    • homeslice says:

      Yes! I loved ATWT for years! Y&L, Capitol and Guiding Light…grew up on those shows!

    • Esmom says:

      I agree, this is the best she’s looked in a long time.

      Didn’t watch her on the soap, I was ABC all the way, lol.

    • Mrs. Cheese says:

      I was coming to say the same thing! I have loved her since ATWT. She and Julianne Moore were my favorites on that show!

  13. tracking says:

    Yeah, her face doesn’t look any better to me either. But she is wearing the hell out of that white pantsuit.

  14. Penelope says:

    She looks better but she still has some of that joker face going on from the hideous plastic surgery. I bet she would have aged just fine had she simply done it naturally.

    Definitely an improvement, though.

  15. Rachel in August says:

    Good Lord! Is that botox shine I’m being blinded by? Yowza.

  16. homeslice says:

    I think acting left Meg and not the other way around. Unfortunately, Hollywood is cruel to aging actresses. That and the fact that she totally went overboard with surgery and it looks odd. It’s sad, she was lovely and You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally are two of my all time favorites.

  17. Lyla says:

    lol. When this site was down this morning, I watched you got mail instead.

  18. Mina says:

    Last I heard from her, she was attached to a TV show for Epix. I would love to see her back in a good movie, the few she’s done in the last ten years have been pretty bad. TV seems like the perfect medium for her to come back now.

  19. Yes Doubtful says:

    I loved many of her Rom Com’s. It’s a shame what she did to her face. Her career essentially ended because of it.

  20. L84Tea says:

    “When Harry Met Sally” is one of the greatest movies of all times as far as I am concerned.

  21. Lala says:

    Meg and Julianne Moore both starred on my FAVORITE daytime soap opera back in the 80s…”As the world turns”…and you had to know how to ACT to be on daytime soaps…and the both were spectacular on the small screen…and that translated to the large one…I always wished they could do a film together!

  22. bluesky says:

    Could not agree more, it’s perfection.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get her comment, “I never wanted to be an actress.” Does she mean “movie star”? Because there’s a big difference. If she really *didn’t* want to act, she certainly didn’t try to do anything else. But she always seemed very uncomfortable with fame.

    Having said that, I don’t think her break from the business was entirely her decision. We all know how cruel Hollywood can be to older women. Despite some of the movies others here have cited as showing Meg’s “range” and “talent,” I’ve never thought she was a particularly good actress. She plays the same character in almost every film, has a very distinctive way of moving and speaking that she could never get rid of — except in the most serious movies she did, where she tones it down a bit. But she was blonde, petite, cute, and vulnerable — three of Hollywood’s favourite things in a woman. As she aged, and lost the cuteness and vulnerability, Hwood didn’t have a place for her anymore.