Meg Ryan: Biography of America's Film Sweetheart

Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra was born on November 19th, 1961 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Originally pursuing a degree in Journalism, she soon appeared in various television commercials. Afterward, she quickly adopted the screen name Meg Ryan, and made her Hollywood debut in 1981. Before she knew it, she was a genuine movie star. This was due to her unforgettable performance in the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” opposite Billy Crystal, as well as several other rom-coms opposite Tom Hanks. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look back at the career of actress Meg Ryan.
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The Life and Career of American Film Sweetheart Meg Ryan

This starlet made it big by trying to prove the theory that men and women can be “just friends.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re taking a look at the career of actress Meg Ryan.

Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra was born on November 19th, 1961 in Fairfield, Connecticut. She grew up the preppy daughter of two elementary school teachers, and eventually relocated to New York to pursue a university degree in Journalism.

However, an opportunity to make extra cash as an actress in commercials soon presented itself. She quickly adopted the screen name Meg Ryan, and landed her debut Hollywood role as Candice Bergen’s daughter in 1981’s “Rich and Famous.” Little did she know that the title of that movie foreshadowed her success in the profession. These early acting opportunities prompted Ryan to drop out of school and relocate to California.

Fortunately, that decision paid off as she landed a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom “One of the Guys.” Up next came a two-year stint on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” and a part in the horror film “Amityville 3-D.”

Her newfound career really began to heat up when she took on the part of an exuberant military wife in 1986’s blockbuster “Top Gun.” Following this, she not only landed a major role in the sci-fi comedy “Innerspace,” but she also developed a romantic relationship with her miniaturized co-star Dennis Quaid, and the two later married.

It was around this time Ryan became a certifiable movie star. This was due to her unforgettable performance in the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” opposite Billy Crystal. The film not only showcased her ability to demonstrate a fake orgasm in public, but also ensured her top billing in future projects.

These films included not one but three rom-coms with co-star Tom Hanks in the 1990s: “Joe Versus the Volcano,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

She also began starring in more dramatic projects. These included her portrayal of an alcoholic in “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and a doctor involved with a messenger of God in “City of Angels.” Despite these films, she resonated best with fans when taking on lighter subject matter in fluffy projects like “I.Q.” and “French Kiss.”

As she regularly dominated the box office, Ryan was at this time considered one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. She then seized the opportunity to demonstrate her diverse acting chops. She co-starred opposite Denzel Washington as a military captain in the Gulf War film “Courage Under Fire,” and voiced the character of Anastasia in the 1997 animated film of the same name.

Unfortunately, as the millennium drew to a close, so did her ten-year marriage to Quaid. This was caused by an extramarital affair with her “Proof of Life” co-star Russell Crowe.

Though she managed to recapture the rom-com genre with the film “Kate & Leopold, she soon realized that her girl-next-door image had been permanently tarnished.
As a result, Ryan emerged with a tougher, sexier look, and tried her hand at more dramatic roles. She portrayed a teacher who was caught up in an erotic affair in the film “In the Cut,” and appeared as a boxing manager in “Against the Ropes.” Unfortunately, both failed to register with moviegoers and critics.

Because of these letdowns, and because of competition from younger actresses, Ryan decided to spend several years away from the limelight.

During that time, she adopted her second child. When she made her Hollywood comeback, she took on more middle-aged roles, including that of a suburban wife in 2007’s coming-of-age comedy “The Land of Women.” Afterwards, she joined an all-female cast in “The Women,” and played a high-powered attorney who was getting even with her cheating husband in the dark comedy “Serious Moonlight.”

Despite turmoil in recent years, Meg Ryan will forever be considered Hollywood’s most wholesome starlet of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Not only recognizable for her cute, bubbly and befuddled personas, she managed to capture and hold the hearts of countless hopeless romantics.
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