After years out of the spotlight, we take a look at Meg Ryan’s life and career

After years out of the spotlight, we take a look at Meg Ryan’s life and career

Back in the late ‘90s, there seemed to be no-one better to turn to for a rom-com than Meg Ryan. Roles in things like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally brought the actress acclaim and assured that she was destined for greatness in Hollywood. At least, they did until rumors of an affair with Russell Crowe turned things around forever. Things haven’t been the same since then.

Married to a star

Before Meg had even made a name for herself, she already had a pretty secure connection to Hollywood. She tied the knot with Dennis Quaid in 1991, a move that brought her to the attention of producers.

Married to a star

Unfortunately, their love wasn’t destined to last, eventually ending in one of the most dramatic divorces in history.

The Queen of Rom-Coms

The ‘90s were incredibly kind to Meg Ryan and her career. After building up some credits in the years before, she found significant success as one of the titular characters in the 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally.

The Queen of Rom-Coms

The film not only proved that Ryan was one to watch but also showed what she could achieve in that genre. That’s why so many of her follow-up roles were romantic comedies. Movies like Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, and You’ve Got Mail all saw the actress take the female lead and establish herself as the Queen of Rom-Coms.

Love on the rocks

Unfortunately, while she might have had a knack for falling in love onscreen, things weren’t quite so successful behind the scenes. As her star continued to rise, her marriage to Dennis ended up going in the opposite direction.

Love on the rocks

The pair found themselves on the rocks, and sadly, nothing they did was able to fix things. By the turn of the century, they decided that their relationship was over and announced their intention to divorce. Things were finalized the following year, by which point Meg had already enjoyed a romance with another man.

Moving on quickly

Rumors that Ryan was in a relationship with Russell Crowe swirled around for months before anyone seemed to confirm anything. It was the New York Post who eventually outed the pair in the summer of 2000, something which came as quite a shock to plenty of fans.

Moving on quickly

The duo enjoyed a whirlwind romance after meeting on the set of Proof of Life, an action thriller for which they played the leads. Although they were only together for a matter of months, their love sparked a lot of controversy because of when it first started.

Behind her husband’s back

The quick nature of Ryan and Crowe’s relationship created speculation that the pair had started dating before she’d split from Quaid. The media was rife with speculation that Meg had embarked on an affair, something which did terrible things to her image.

Behind her husband’s back

Questions were asked about whether Ryan had ended her marriage to be with Russell, or if the affair had simply been the final nail in the coffin. The actress wasn’t interested in talking about this stuff with the press, but that didn’t stop them from asking questions. They were desperate for answers.

It ruined her career

To this day, it’s still not entirely clear whether these two relationships overlapped or not. Although they happened in very close proximity to each other, that doesn’t mean one was necessarily an affair. Unfortunately, it didn’t really matter if Meg had gone behind her husband’s back or not.

It ruined her career

All the talk of an affair painted a picture of Ryan that people didn’t particularly like. One by one, they started turning their back on her until the actress went from being a leading lady to a thing of the past. It was a real fall from grace for her.

No better than her

Of course, things aren’t always as they appear to be. While Meg might have seemed like public enemy number one throughout this ordeal, that didn’t mean her husband was entirely innocent. Apparently, he had also been unfaithful during their marriage, with his infidelity an even bigger issue.

No better than her

According to an interview from 2008, Ryan stated that her husband had been seeing people behind her back “for a long time.” Although she didn’t learn this until after the divorce, that didn’t mean his betrayal hurt any less. Their marriage had been built on lies.

It wasn’t working

For the pair to both reportedly cheat says a lot about the state of their marriage. Clearly, it wasn’t as strong as either of them had wanted it to be, and they knew that. Even if she’d been unaware of Dennis’ infidelity at the time, Ryan still struggled to be around her husband.

It wasn’t working

The actress once admitted to Oprah Winfrey that the marriage broke down because “it was not working.” She didn’t leave her husband to be with Russell; she just couldn’t handle being in an unhappy relationship any longer. Some things simply aren’t meant to be.

Completely infatuated

Of course, while the marriage might not have ended because of Russell, that didn’t mean Meg wasn’t crazy about him. According to People in 2001, the actress was “infatuated” with her former co-star. It was around the time that she and Dennis announced their separation that she apparently felt this way.

Completely infatuated

If that were the case, it would certainly explain why she and Crowe were quick to enter into a relationship. Ryan didn’t need time to develop feelings for the actor because she’d already fallen for him. If only their love had lasted.

Jumping into things fast

One of the reasons people assumed that Meg had been having an affair with Russell was because of the timing of everything. Usually, people don’t rush into a new relationship after splitting from their partner of nine years.

Jumping into things fast

However, Ryan seemed uninterested in waiting to start a new life with Crowe. She was crazy about the man and wanted someone to help her forget the pain of her divorce. At least, that was the impression people got. It seems that the actress might not have been as eager for a new relationship as it appeared.

Too much too soon

According to People, things with Russell moved far too quickly for Meg. As much as she cared about him, she couldn’t just switch off from her husband as soon as he wanted. Crowe was apparently talking about marrying Ryan and having kids with her, something which proved to be overwhelming for the rom-com star.

Too much too soon

She was supposedly more interested in a casual fling rather than an intense relationship, and Russell apparently couldn’t grasp that. Perhaps that’s why the two weren’t together for very long before ultimately going their separate ways.

Things aren’t working out

If Meg really did feel overwhelmed by her relationship with Crowe, then it’s perhaps not surprising that she reportedly ended things with the actor. That’s according to an interview she gave in 2008 where she admitted that she was “a mess” when they were together.

Things aren’t working out

Understandably, she wasn’t in the best place after parting from Quaid, and she ended up taking that out on Russell. She knew that she couldn’t handle another big relationship at the time, which is why she “got out.” Of course, that didn’t mean it was easy for her to give up her lover.

It’s never easy

In another interview that year, Ryan revealed just how hard it was to let Russell go. Although she knew it was for the best, she referred to it as being “a drag because I was crazy about him.”

It’s never easy

Thankfully, Crowe seemed to accept that Meg couldn’t invest in a relationship back then because he was apparently “incredibly gracious.” Ryan stated that she was grateful to the kindness that her former co-star had shown her, both when they were together and after they split up. Clearly, he thought very highly of the rom-com icon.

From two different worlds

Maybe things would have ended better for these two if they’d been a little more suited to one another. While there might have been plenty of passion in their relationship, they were also from different worlds. It was only in their careers that they really shared similarities, with Crowe more of a country man than his ex-girlfriend.

From two different worlds

Although we expect they could have made things work, their differences certainly didn’t convince them to stay together. Fortunately, splitting up seemed like it was for the best, even if Meg’s career has never recovered from the relationship.

Making enemies

Opinions about Meg and Russell’s relationship differed from person to person, but someone who definitely didn’t approve of it was their former director. Taylor Hackford, who was responsible for Proof of Life, actually blamed the pair for the film’s poor performance at the box office.

Making enemies

He believed that the real life drama had a “destructive effect” on the movie’s popularity, stating that it overpowered what they’d worked on. Unsurprisingly, Crowe wasn’t too happy when he heard this, referring to the director as an “idiot.” They haven’t worked together since then.

Misreported by the media

The main reason that the alleged affair had such an influence on Meg Ryan’s career is because of how the media presented it. They certainly painted her out to be the enemy, regardless of if she’d cheated on her husband or not.

Misreported by the media

Ryan didn’t appreciate the way the press talked about her, especially because she felt certain parts of her personal life were none of their business. Unfortunately, when you’re in the public eye, you have to accept that keeping things hidden from the media is easier said than done. Stuff like this always comes out eventually.

Finally free

Thankfully, while the press might have trampled over her image, Ryan found the experience to be very freeing. Earlier this year, the actress referred to the media’s stories about her as a “real gift” because they taught her to stop caring about them.

Finally free

She realized that she would never be able to change what people said about her, so she learned to move on with her life. While she would have preferred the media not to get things wrong about her divorce, she felt strong enough to ignore everything they were saying about her life.

Downhill from here

Unfortunately, when you’re a celebrity, your career is often in the hands of the media. They have a significant influence over whether you’re liked or not, and the affair drama certainly painted Meg in a bad light. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason things started to go downhill after the divorce.

Downhill from here

Ryan went into the 2000s hoping to broaden her repertoire and experiment with new genres, something which didn’t work in her favor. Rom-coms were where she thrived, and without these movies, her career started to plummet.

An independent movie star

After several years of questionable film roles, including the sports drama Against the Ropes, which was a critical and commercial failure, Meg found herself focusing on independent movies. These were a world away from the big box office movies she’d been starring in a decade earlier, but she didn’t have much choice.

An independent movie star

If Ryan wanted to continue working as an actress, she had to make sacrifices with her career. Among her film credits during this period were the dramedy In the Land of Women and the black comedy Serious Moonlight, neither of which was particularly successful.

Going from bad to worse

Going into 2010 and beyond, Ryan’s career looked nothing like it had done back in the ‘90s. She was attached to movies that never ended up airing, only managing to bag the odd appearance on TV here and there.

Going from bad to worse

Even her attempt to go behind the camera didn’t pan out too well. The actress made her directorial debut in 2015 when she worked on the drama film Ithaca, but the reviews weren’t particularly positive. The movie ended up receiving a score of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, signaling a further decline for the actress’ career.

On the quiet side

Since then, not much has been heard from Ryan. Ithaca was the last significant role she had, with the actress seemingly taking another break from the spotlight. Reports in late 2018 announced that Meg was apparently producing and potentially starring in comedy series The Obsolescents.

On the quiet side

However, little has been said about the project since then, casting doubts over the future of the show. Fortunately, while Ryan’s career might not be the same anymore, at least her contributions in the ‘90s are still remembered. She was recently honored at the Locarno Festival for her work in rom-coms.

Everything has changed

Meg Ryan has undoubtedly been on quite a wild ride since becoming a Hollywood icon. She’s fallen harder than most stars in the spotlight, although she’s managed to do so gracefully. However, while her career might not be in the position it used to be, at least she has plenty of memorable moments to look back on.

Everything has changed

Could she have kept her momentum going if it wasn’t for Russell Crowe? Possibly, although it’s hard to know for sure. As far as we know, the actress may have always been destined to go downhill after the ‘90s.

Post Crowe

And what about her love-life after the Russell Crowe stint? Well, apparently the 57 year-old actress has been dating musician and Grammy award winner, John Mellencamp, on and off for the last seven years.

In late 2018, the couple announced their sudden engagement. Ryan posted on her social media account a picture that looks like a kid’s drawing, of something that appears to be her and John (judging by the guitar he’s supposedly holding). She captioned it, “ENGAGED!”

No rush

But the media felt dubious as to when and if the marriage was ever going to happen. When asked about the engagement, and the wedding date, Ryan said that there’s no rush to tie the knot, on her part. In an interview, she vaguely said that the marriage was going to happen “at some point,” but only being engaged is good enough for her, right now.

She claimed that currently, she’s trying to focus on producing, and even trying her luck at directing. She mentioned something about working on an “e-commerce project” with friends. But mostly, she’s just focusing on her children’s happiness.

The stamp of approval

Ryan has two children, son Jack, 27, from her marriage to Dennis Quaid; and daughter Daisy, 16, whom she adopted. Jack himself is also an aspiring actor, taking after his mother and trying his luck in the rom-com scene. He recently appeared in the moderately successful rom-com, Plus One.

When asked about the his mother’s engagement on the movie’s premier, Jack said he “couldn’t be happier” for the couple.  He said that he “super excited” for them, and that he’s even a fan of John’s music.

Personal contact

Recently InStyle magazine interviewed Ryan about her current state of mind, and what it’s like to look back twenty years later at her life. Ryan said that now, unlike twenty years ago, she has “more of a voice” regarding anything to do “with social media.”

She feels her relationship with the media is now more personal and direct, if she chooses it to be. This is of course thanks to accounts on social media platforms, allowing her to choose how people see her and what image she projects.

Telling the truth

We believe she was referring to the image the media gave her when the whole Russell Crowe shenanigan was happening. When Ryan controls her image, there is more “complexity in the understanding of a person,” and people don’t see all black or white.

Telling the truth

It isn’t like it was before, when the media had all the cards and control in their hands. This is Ryan’s way of saying she can better portray herself the way she wants to. This is more truthful, because no story is ever as simple as the headline it is given by the media.

The complexity of life

In fact, Ryan herself said in an interview with David Marchese for the New York Times Magazine, that she needed to let go of what the tabloids had to say about her, and feeling the need to correct them.

The complexity of life

She elaborates that life is hard, and when the media hones in on these personal aspects of life, it is hard for them to encapsulate the complexities involved. Ryan concludes by commenting that it’s depressing, how happy everyone is on social media.

Breaking-up… again?

In late 2019, Meg Ryan and John Mellencamp called off their engagement. The on-again, off-again couple had been together for eight years, and got engaged in late 2018.

Breaking-up… again?

However, the couple had taken their time to seal the deal, neither of them being in a rush to actually get married. Recently, though, Meg was spotted in her Tribeca neighborhood on a rare outing to pick up groceries, with fans spotted a ring missing from her finger.

She’ll always love him

A close friend of both John Mellencamp and Meg Ryan allegedly relayed exclusively to ‘Closer Weekly’ that the couple had broken up due to irreconcilable differences. The friend elaborated that Meg will always love John, and does not put any blame onto the singer.

She’ll always love him

She apparently agonized over this decision, which was a heartbreaking one for her to make due to the profound love she feels towards him. Yet, as they were not on the same page anymore, Meg was forced to make the difficult decision to end the relationship.

Retail therapy?

Perhaps as a bit of retail therapy following her break-up, the generally New York City based Meg has invested a little over $5 million in the West Coast real estate. Ryan has recently purchased a sprawling 1.5 acre property with mountain views in the exclusive seaside enclave of Montecito.

Retail therapy?

The spectacular property comes with a farmhouse of roughly 4,300 square feet, and is reminiscent of a high-end boutique hotel, with its’ serene farmhouse inspired architecture.

What’s next

Ryan has left the screen and has, of late, decided to tackle producing and directing films. Specifically, she is working within the genre that she has the most experience and knowledge of: romantic comedies.

What’s next

Currently, she is writing a film she is hoping to direct, however she comments that this has come with obstacles she wasn’t aware of, relaying that rom-com’s are confections with construction, contrary to her prior beliefs. Meg is also producing, what she classifies as, a limited three series murder-mystery comedy with Lorne Michaels.