Meg Ryan and David Duchovny star as exes stuck at an airport in ‘What Happens Later’

I love rom coms and am always down for a good Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, JLo, or the non-Hallmark holiday movie. The Queen of Rom Coms, Meg Ryan, is back in a romantic comedy that she directed and co-stars in with David Duchovny called What Happens Later. The movie takes place in an airport with a former couple running into each other when their flights are delayed. It’s based on Steven Dietz’s play Shooting Star and Ryan co-wrote the screenplay with Dietz and playwright Kirk Lynn.

Meg Ryan is throwing it back to her rom-com heyday. On Wednesday, Bleecker Street debuted the first trailer for What Happens Later, in which Ryan, 61, and David Duchovny, 63, star as a former couple who unexpectedly reunite after decades apart when a snowstorm strands them at the airport. Their separate flights delayed indefinitely due to weather, Willa (Ryan) and Bill (Duchovny) catch up on the more than two decades that have passed since their breakup.

A synopsis for the film describes Willa as a “magical thinker” and Bill as a “catastrophic one.” When they reunite, they “find themselves just as attracted to — and annoyed by — one another as they did decades earlier.”

“But as they unpack the riddle of their mutual past and compare their lives to the dreams they once shared, they begin to wonder if their reunion is mere coincidence, or something more enchanted.”

What Happens Later was made to recapture the “cheeky magic of Ryan’s rom-coms of the 90s,” according to the synopsis. Ryan told Entertainment Weekly that rom-coms “really work when the two characters are somehow opposites and yet have a rhythm of intellect and humor and dialogue and banter that sort of indicates their compatibility.”

“It’s just been really fun to see David embrace this guy who I don’t think is anything really like David. Whereas the Willa thing I can really relate to,” she added in the interview conducted prior to the actors’ strike. “To see him dive into every single scene in the fullest way, he’s funny, and he’s smart, and he’s dear, and irresistible.”

The star also shared how What Happens Later “evolves” the familiar genre.

“Sometimes there’s a question of: Will they be together? Will they not be together? For that reason, [What Happens Later] sort of evolves the rom-com genre just a little bit,” she said. “It’s also about old people, and it’s still romantic and sexy.”

At the Tribeca Film Festival in June, Duchovny teased the movie to PEOPLE: “It’s really good. What Happens Later, and it’s really a good movie. I mean, it’s just me and her, the whole damn movie, and it’s just a kind of throwback sweet film.”

[From People]

The trailer looks super cute. Sign me up! I have seen every single episode of “The X-Files,” so you had me at “Mulder in a rom com.” Anyone else love a good rom com and plan on seeing this? Even the film’s tagline of “They missed their connection” is hooking me.

I also kinda love that this new generation of romantic comedies just kinda picks up with the same actors who were doing them 20-30 years ago and adjusts for their age/place in life. (See also: Ticket to Paradise.) Oh, and for all of you X-Files nerds out there, What Happens Later is out in theaters on October 13, which coincidentally happens to be Fox Mulder’s birthday. Yup, I knew that fact off the top of my head. Anyway, in keeping with our theme of rooting for female directors, I hope this movie is successful for Meg’s sake. I’m definitely planning on seeing it.

photos credit: and screenshots via YouTube

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35 Responses to “Meg Ryan and David Duchovny star as exes stuck at an airport in ‘What Happens Later’”

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  1. Southern Fried says:

    Looks good! Praying that it is since being disappointed by recent Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and JLo rom coms.

  2. Jais says:

    X-files fan and I had a huge crush on Duchovny for a good minute back in the day. Not sure the real him measured up by my teen heart didn’t care.

    • Josephine says:

      He has a lot of charisma. I can see the two of them doing well on screen together.

    • AmyB says:

      Same! Love me some Fox Mulder!! I will definitely see this; looking forward to seeing Meg Ryan too!

  3. Kirsten says:

    This looks cute! I love David Duchovny.

  4. Nic says:

    Not generally a fan of romcoms – because they often reinforce traditional gender roles, the idea that women aren’t complete without some dude, and perpetuate stalking behaviour as romantic perseverance, but getting off my soapbox, I love the idea of romance movies depicting older people navigating life and each other. Also love Meg and David.

    • SIde Eye says:

      You articulated everything I feel much better than I could have Nic!

      ITA. Not a fan of romcoms in general (the stalking really triggers me) but I do want to see this one! It looks really good. I think my romance chip is broken – it may explain why I gravitate towards films that end the way they do. My faves in the romance department are Far From Heaven, Prime, Bridges of Madison County, and Cairo Time. I think those endings match my world view.

      • Nic says:

        Couldn’t agree more on your film preferences reflecting your world view. We are birds of a feather. Also adding The English Patient and The Remains of the Day. Although those are dramas more than rom coms I guess…

      • Louisa says:

        Oh Cairo Time! I absolutely love that movie. Just so beautiful….

      • SIde Eye says:

        Nic I am going to add those two to my viewing list – I have not seen them! Ha ha it sounds like we are birds of a feather for sure! Louisa that film – aside from the acting which was flawless, it’s the beauty of it, the scenery. Everything about it took my breath away and that had not happened since Far From Heaven.

      • Little Red says:

        LOVELOVELOVE Cairo Time!

    • hangonamin says:

      how do you guys feel about the before series with delpy and hawke (before sunrise, etc)? i remember loving them when i was younger but haven’t revisited to see how they have held up.

      • EllenOlenska says:

        Love them…my favorite is the middle one, I actually saw that one before I saw Sunrise…and I think Midnight brings in a great, if less rosy, view of what happens over time in a relationship. It’s harder to watch than the other two which is the point. So I have always seen them out of order but I still love them and wish they’d check in again (so far delpy hawk and director say they haven’t found a great reason to revisit characters but won’t rule it out)

  5. Twin Falls says:

    I love Meg Ryan. I’m rooting for her.

    • Barrett says:

      I will see this even if it gets ok reviews. Looks like its good for a rainy Sunday afternoon movie .
      I do love her banter and he fits in well. Her face movement looks better than usual but man she is like Courtney Cox, she looked better w smaller lips, fit her bone structure. So distracting. She would have aged great w/o all that stuff injected! When will me move to diversity in our faces again, like Jamie Curtis said. Why take away our unique characteristics?

      • May says:

        @barrett, you are right. “So distracting”. I wouldn’t be able to watch the film because I would constantly be going,: wtf? I do note that in the trailer there doesn’t seem to be many close-ups or lingering shots on Meg’s face but I would find it too distracting. I recently saw Melanie Griffith in something and all I could do was stare at her botched face!

  6. Ms single malt says:

    I would have loved it if she had a cameo in the latest Top Gun movie. I was young when I saw the original Top Gun and the Goose storyline gutted me. Meg Ryan and Anthony Edwards had great chemistry on screen.

    I agree with Twin Falls. I’m rooting for her.

  7. Ponsby says:

    I’m really living for all the Mulder talk in this article, came to say all this and didn’t have to. Ha ha! don’t know if this is too niche, but I feel like X-Files was like, THE bi-awakening not just for myself but for like 95% of the bifolks I know.

  8. Colleen says:

    Well, I’m smiling having finished the trailer. Yes, I LOVE a rom com and I love Meg Ryan. I’m so happy to see her on the big screen again!

  9. Torttu says:

    I hope the movie does well and I’m glad Ryan is directing, but I have to say I hate the exes getting back together-plot. It turns my stomach. There’s a reason it didn’t work out!
    (In real life I don’t feel like this, only in movies.)
    And Ticket to Paradise was just awful.

    • MaryContrary says:

      This exactly. It would be more true to life if they did a quick hook up and then realized they were still totally incompatible, wished each other well, and went back to their own lives. And Ticket to Paradise was unwatchable dreck.

  10. ThatsNotOkay says:

    It looks cute. Even though her plumped-up face is still distracting. I’ll try to get passed it, but I honestly have a hard time looking at people with fillers and the like. It’s like having a fear of clowns, but more pervasive.

    • Notjust says:

      I get that, sometimes it’s just really jarring. In real life, when a colleague gets fillers, or their teeth fixed, I also get massively distracted. Same thing with YouTubers. If they didn’t have them when I started watching and then suddenly start having them (especially lip fillers), then it becomes all I see.

    • Becks1 says:

      I found it very distracting in the trailer as well. She had such an expressive face and now….not so much.

    • May says:

      Oops, saw your three comments after I made one above. I absolutely agree that her face would just be too distracting for me to sit through an entire film of hers!

  11. SeemaLikely says:

    Looking forward to this. It’s a smart premise, and one I find intriguing: what if you could have a conversation with an ex after the dust has not only settled, but been buried under everything that came after? No emotions, just a clear-eyed assessment by two adults who once cared deeply for one another.

  12. KC says:

    David Duchovny was in Return to Me with Minnie Driver and it’s really well done. Funny and romantic. Directed by Bonnie Hunt.

    • AmyB says:

      That was a cute, sweet movie! Thanks for reminding me of it

    • North of Boston says:

      It was a sweet movie, and DD and MD were good. But IIRC, Bonnie Hunt and Jim Belushi (of all people) actually were more fun as a couple and nearly stole the movie from the leads.

  13. girl_ninja says:

    I’m looking forward to this little film, I think both actors are charismatic and I already see the chemistry between then. When I saw the trailer yesterday I thought it seemed familier. Seeing now that it is an adaptation of Shooting Stars I’m looking forward to it seeing it even more.

  14. Tish says:

    I want to see this. I miss Meg Ryan and her fun romcoms. I think she looks good.

  15. Anna says:

    Fellow X-Files nerd here: 10/13 is in fact Chris Carter’s birthday (the guy who invented the show) and he gave Mulder his own birthday. His production company is also called tenthirteen. I’ll show myself out now.

  16. QuiteContrary says:

    I am an avowed feminist, but I like rom coms (those without stalking!).

    Any recs while we wait for this one? I loved “Always Be My Maybe,” “Wedding Season” on Netflix and “The Perfect Find.” Just watched “Nappily Ever After” and found it completely charming.

    My job is stressful, so I want to laugh on weekends. So my requirements are: no main characters may die — especially dogs.

  17. Ncki says:

    It looks cute! And she and Duchovny have genuinely good chemistry. I’m relieved. I confess was reluctant to watch the trailer because her face was so altered by surgery or fillers. But it looks like much of the damage has been reversed. And the voice is the same. She gives such good line readings. I have missed her. I hope the film does well.

  18. bisynaptic says:

    What. Has. She. Done. To. Her. Face.