It’s been about eight years since Meg Ryan last appeared in a film, and a full 15 since she was in a major studio movie. It’s a somewhat surprising turn of events for an actress who was a box office star throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and a definitive leading lady of the romantic comedy genre—especially considering so many of her Hollywood peers have continued to enjoy thriving careers in both film and television. Now, Ryan is back, and assuring the world there wasn’t some dramatic backstory to her break. She just had some other things she wanted to do. That’s all.
“I took a giant break because I felt like there are just so many other parts of my experience as a human being I wanted to develop,” she tells People magazine in a new cover story.
“It’s nice to think of it as a job and not a lifestyle. And that is a great way of navigating it for me.”
Fittingly, Ryan is returning to the rom-com genre that made her an icon in the first place, this time not only as a star, but as a director. Her new film, What Happens Later (an independent feature with a SAG-AFTRA waiver) opens in November, and finds Ryan playing a woman who bumps into an old ex (played by David Duchovny) at an airport after all flights are grounded during a snowstorm. “The essence of it is these two people who are stuck together,” she told the magazine. “I just love that idea that we’re held in a space, even if it feels conflicted, maybe for reasons that heal them.”
Ryan had previously told OK! magazine that at a certain point in her career she felt so burnt out, she wasn’t even sure she could connect to the characters she was playing anymore. “[I] didn’t feel like I knew enough about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated,” she said. “I wanted to live more. I don’t feel like, naturally, I’m a performer.” Ryan, now 61, also said she was finding it more difficult to find roles after turning 40.
During those intervening years, it’s not like Ryan completely vanished from the public eye. She’s appeared at numerous galas, Hollywood events, and even some fashion show front rows (including a Schiaparelli couture show in 2019). She’s also been busy raising her younger daughter, Daisy, who recently turned 18. Her older son, Jack Quaid, has been busy in Hollywood in his own right, appearing in Oppenheimer and as one of the stars of Amazon’s smash hit The Boys. Ryan has also maintained a presence on Instagram, where you can find her not only promoting What Happens Later but Jack’s many projects as well.