Nationality: American. Born: Margaret Mary Hyra in Fairfield, Connecticut, 19 November 1961. Education: University of Connecticut, studied journalism at New York University. Family : Married the actor Dennis Quaid, 1991, one son: Jack Henry. Career: 1981—film debut in Rich and Famous ; 1982–84—appeared in TV daytime drama As the World Turns ; 1993—started production company, Prufrock Pictures. Awards: Golden Apple, Hollywood Woman's Press Club, 1989; Crystal Award, Women in Film, 1995. Agent: Steve Dontanville, International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, U.S.A. Address: Prufrock Pictures, 10201 West Pico Boulevard, Building 78, Los Angeles, CA 90035, U.S.A.
Rich and Famous (Cukor) (as Debby at 18); Amy and the Angel (Rosenblum—for TV) (as Denise)
Amityville 3-D ( Amityville: The Demon ) (Fleischer) (as Lisa)
Armed and Dangerous (Lester) (as Maggie Cavanaugh); Top Gun (Tony Scott) (as Carole Bradshaw)
Innerspace (Dante) (as Lydia Maxwell)
Promised Land ( Young Hearts ) (Hoffman) (as Bev); D.O.A. (Morton and Jankel) (as Sydney Fuller); The Presidio (Hyams) (as Donna Caldwell)
When Harry Met Sally . . . (Rob Reiner) (as Sally Albright)
Joe versus the Volcano (Shanley) (as DeDe/Angelica/Patricia)
The Doors (Oliver Stone) (as Pamela Courson)
Prelude to a Kiss (René) (as Rita Boyle)
Sleepless in Seattle (Nora Ephron) (as Annie Reed); Flesh and Bone (Kloves) (as Kay Davies)
I.Q. (Schepisi) (as Catherine Boyd); When a Man Loves a Woman (Mandoki) (as Alice Green)
French Kiss ( Paris Match ) (Kasdan) (as Kate, + co-pr); Restoration (Hoffman) (as Katherine)
Courage under Fire (Zwick) (as Capt. Karen Walden); Two for the Road (as Joanna, + pr)
Addicted to Love (Dunne) (as Maggie); Anastasia (Bluth, Goldman) (voice of Anastasia)
Hurlyburly (Drazan) (as Bonnie); City of Angels (Silberling) (as Maggie); You've Got Mail (Ephron) (as Kathleen Kelly)
Hanging Up (Keaton) (as Eve)
"Brilliant Disguise," interview with Fred Schruers, in Rolling Stone (New York), 11 February 1988.
"That's the Way Love Goes," interview with Nancy Riffin, in Premiere (New York), July 1993.
"Tough Love," interview with Charles Salzberg, in Redbook (New York), July 1993.
"The Crying Game," interview with John Mosby, in Film Review (London), November 1993.
"Faces of Meg," interview with Amy Fine Collins, in Harper's Bazaar (New York), June 1994.
"Megabucks Megastar Meg Ryan," interview with Richard Natale, in Cosmopolitan (New York), 1 December 1994.
"Maximum Meg," interview with Kevin Sessums, in Vanity Fair (New York), May 1995.
"The French Connection," interview with Marianne Gray, in Film Review (London), December 1995.
"Private Meg," interview with Rachel Abramowitz, in Premiere (New York), May 1996.
Landman, Beth, and others, "The Meg Ryan Mystique," in Redbook (New York), April 1995.
Corliss, Richard, "Star Lite, Star Bright," in Time (New York), 22 May 1995.
Premier (New York), May 1997.
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Before Meg Ryan achieved the top rank of stardom with When Harry Met Sally . . . in 1989, she had attracted notice in a number of memorable supporting roles on television and in film. Her big-screen debut was as Candice Bergen's daughter in Rich and Famous in 1981 and she acquired fans with her role in the soap opera As the World Turns from 1982–84, but it was in Top Gun , as Anthony Edwards's wife and then widow, that she made her first major impression. Her line to Edwards, "Take me to bed or lose me forever," became something of a catch phrase for teenage girls in the summer of 1986 and Ryan and Edwards stole much of the spotlight away from the film's leads, Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis.
Ryan's raw-nerve, wild-girl image in Top Gun may have caused Michael Hoffman to cast her in Promised Land , two years later. While the film sank under a surfeit of unstructured adolescent angst, Ryan's performance as Kiefer Sutherland's violence prone, white-trash bride impresses and even shocks today's viewers who only know her from her later romantic comedies. Her Bev in that film suggests that Ryan has a range that has gone sadly unused, even in her recent dramatic roles in Flesh and Bone and When a Man Loves a Woman .
After Promised Land , however, Ryan sank comfortably back into "girlfriend-of-the-lead" parts in D.O.A. and The Presidio . It was in Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally . . . , that Ryan emerged as a major star and solidified the comic persona that would dominate much of her career in the coming years. Ryan's faked orgasm scene in that film would be widely replayed and comparisons would be drawn between her and Carole Lombard. Ryan offered a winsome amalgamation of innocence and big city savoir faire; her inchoate romantic schemes seemed to evaporate across her face before being fully solidified but Ryan always managed to land her man in the final reel. If the Lombard comparison was a bit pat, one could compare Ryan to the remarkably similar Clara Bow in the 1927 film, It . As with Bow in that Hooverera picture, Ryan offered the Reagan-Bush years a post-Jane Fonda, post-Sally Field image of the "strong" woman who gets what she wants through feminine ingenuity while maintaining a supple, girlish demeanor. This was hardly a persona feminists took to—even Camille Paglia would criticize Ryan's image in print—but it won the actress
Ryan did stretch a bit in Joe versus the Volcano (where she played three distinct roles) and Prelude to a Kiss (where her character's body is possessed by an elderly, ill man who fortuitously gets a new lease on life). Neither film, however, had the enormous impact of 1993's Sleepless in Seattle . In that Nora Ephron film, as an engaged woman who leaves her fiancé to track down a dream man she has heard about on the radio, Ryan offered another canny alternative to the "strong" and perhaps subliminally threatening female stars of the period.
While Sleepless in Seattle grossed $188 million, Ryan may have played out that film's kind of character to the point where audiences have became a bit wary. I.Q. for Fred Schepisi in 1994 was a critical and box-office disappointment and 1995's French Kiss , co-produced by her new production company, did not recapture the success of her earlier blockbusters. The latter's only modest box-office success, despite a witty script, sharp direction, and some of Ryan's most skillful and precise comic work, points to the actress's need to explore other options in film roles. When A Man Loves a Woman , where Ryan plays an alcoholic mother, earned her a certain amount of respect as a dramatic actress, and Edward Zwick's Courage under Fire , where she plays a Persian Gulf War hero, seems calculated to help Ryan shift gears into a more complex mode of performance for the second half of the nineties.