America’s Rom-Com Sweetheart.
By Taylor Neumann, ReMIND Magazine
Meg Ryan was born Margaret Mary Emily Hyra on Nov. 19, 1961, in Fairfield, Connecticut. She went to college for journalism and took on odd acting jobs in commercials and on the soap opera As the World Turns to make extra money. She was so successful that she decided to drop out of college a semester before graduation to pursue acting full time. When registering for the Screen Actors Guild, she decided to join with the last name “Ryan,” her grandmother’s maiden name.
Her first major film role came in 1986 with the release of Top Gun, where she played the wife of Anthony Edwards’ Goose. But her first leading role was 1989’s When Harry Met Sally … opposite Billy Crystal. Ryan’s portrayal of Sally Albright earned her a Golden Globe nomination and cemented her high status in the hearts of fans of romantic comedies.
The ’90s brought some of Ryan’s most iconic roles, beginning in 1990 with Joe Versus the Volcano, joining her with Tom Hanks for their first film together of the decade. The movie was a commercial disappointment, but later became a cult favorite. She next starred in The Doors (1991) and Prelude to a Kiss (1992). She was offered the role of Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) but turned it down due to its gruesome themes.
In 1993, Sleepless in Seattle was released and again paired her with Hanks, this time in what turned out to be a much more successful movie. It was an instant hit and has become entrenched in the echelon of American rom-coms.
In 1994, People named her one of “the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World,” and in 1995 critic Richard Corliss called her “the current soul of romantic comedy.” In 1998, she starred in two films — City of Angels, which grossed nearly $200 million worldwide, and in her third pairing with Hanks, You’ve Got Mail, which was wildly successful and is beloved to this day.
The 2000s showed that Ryan was capable of other roles. Throughout these years she starred in Proof of Life (2000), Kate & Leopold (2001) — another rom-com opposite Hugh Jackman and her highest grossing film of the decade — In the Cut (2003), Against the Ropes (2004) and The Women (2008). In recent years, Ryan has taken time away from big roles and made some smaller films, including her directorial debut Ithaca in 2015.
Ryan has been married once, to Dennis Quaid, from 1991 to 2001. They have one son together, actor Jack Quaid. Ryan has also adopted a daughter from China, Daisy True. She continues to be known for her work in some of the most iconic rom-coms in movie history.