Meg Ryan After graduating from Bethel High School, Ryan studied journalism at New York University. She went into acting to earn extra money while in school. After her first role in a feature film, Ryan (now using her screen name) played Betsy on the daytime drama As the World Turns from 1982 to 1984. Directors for this show especially liked working with her because she could cry on cue.
After several TV film and smaller movie roles, her first full blown hit in a leading role was the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.... The movie was favorably received and typecast Ryan as a bubbly, charming, feisty, but incurable romantic. She made several attempts to break away from this stereotype, and garnered some critical acclaim for her work in When a Man Loves a Woman (where she played an alcoholic) and Courage Under Fire (where she played a military officer killed in combat). Many of her films of the 1990s were hits not only in North America, but also abroad. She had a very popular onscreen pairing with Tom Hanks; some compared their chemistry to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. They starred in three films together, and their last, (1998's You've Got Mail), was Ryan's last major box office success for some years to come.
Ryan married actor Dennis Quaid on Valentine's Day in 1991 after co-starring in two films with him. Quaid and Ryan had one child together, Jack Henry, born April 24, 1992. The couple divorced on July 16, 2001. Although Ryan had an affair with actor Russell Crowe, with whom she was working on a movie, both she and Quaid deny it was a factor in their divorce. When the film (Proof of Life) failed, director Taylor Hackford blamed Crowe and Ryan's affair and the ensuing negative publicity it garnered. Some believed this affair, along with Ryan ageing beyond the "cute" persona of her onscreen characters, hurt her popularity with the American public, while possibly working in favor of her ex-husband Quaid. She has not had a major box office success since knowledge of the affair became public.
In 2003, she broke away from her usual roles and starred in In the Cut, an erotic crime/thriller/mystery which was popular with neither critics nor the public. While promoting this film in the UK, Ryan drew the ire of the British press and public when she was on Parkinson, the popular talk show hosted by veteran presenter Michael Parkinson. Ryan's behaviour was widely considered appalling, turning her back on fellow guests Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, and suggesting that Parkinson call time on the interview. In a 2006 survey of British TV viewers her behaviour on the show was considered the third "most shocking" TV chat show moment ever .
Asteroid 8353 Megryan was named in her honor.
In January of 2006, Ryan brought her newly adopted daughter from China. The baby is less than one year old and was originally named Charlotte True, but later Ryan said "I already had to change her name. I thought she was Charlotte and she's just not...she's a Daisy."
Meg's mother, Sue Ryan Jordan, is a 27-year survivor of breast cancer and is a breast cancer advocate.