Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (born
November 19, 1961), professionally known as Meg Ryan, is an American film
actress whose lead roles in five films - When Harry Met Sally...,
Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, City of Angels and You've Got Mail -
grossed over $870 million worldwide.
Ryan was born in Connecticut, the daughter of Susan Hyra Jordan (née
Ryan), a former actress, casting director, and English teacher, and Harry
Hyra, a math teacher. She has two sisters, Dana and Annie, and a brother,
musician Andrew Hyra, of the band Billy Pilgrim.
Ryan was raised a Roman Catholic and graduated from Saint Pius X
Elementary School, in Fairfield, where her mother taught sixth grade.
There, Ryan was confirmed into the Catholic Church, choosing the name
"Anne" as her confirmation name. Ryan's mother had appeared in one
television commercial and later worked briefly as an assistant casting
director in New York City. She supported and encouraged her young
daughter's study of acting.
Ryan graduated from Bethel High School in 1979. She went on to study
journalism at the University of Connecticut and then at New York
University, while acting in television commercials to earn extra money.
Her success as an actress led her to drop out of college a semester before
At age 18, through her mother's connections, Ryan booked her first
television commercial, doing chin-ups and giggling to promote "Tickle"
After a role in Rich and Famous, Ryan played "Betsy Stewart" in the
daytime drama As the World Turns, from 1982 to 1984; she was featured in a
popular romantic story arc. Several TV film and smaller movie roles
followed, including Amityville 3-D and Promised Land; for her role in the
latter she received her first Independent Spirit Award nomination.
In 1986, she played, "Carole Bradshaw," (wife of naval aviator "Nick
'Goose' Bradshaw"; played by Anthony Edwards) in Top Gun, and appeared in
several scenes. Ryan played "Lydia Maxwell" in the movie Innerspace, which
also starred her former husband, Dennis Quaid. Ryan then appeared in a
film-noir remake (D.O.A.) and an action film (The Presidio).
Her first full-blown hit in a leading role was the romantic comedy When
Harry Met Sally... (1989) which paired her with comedic leading man Billy
Crystal. Her portrayal of Sally Albright, which earned her a Golden Globe
nomination, is memorable for her depiction of a theatrically faked orgasm
in Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan.
Ryan then starred in The Doors and in Prelude to a Kiss. Both films were
moderately successful. 1993 saw the release of the hugely successful
romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, which paired Ryan with leading man
Tom Hanks for the second of three times. (The first was in Joe Versus the
Volcano, which earned a "cult following" but was a critical and commercial
She made several attempts to break away from the romantic comedy ingenue
stereotype and garnered critical acclaim for her work in When a Man Loves
a Woman, in which she played an alcoholic, and in Courage Under Fire,
portraying a captain in the Gulf War. Both films were substantial
successes at the box office. Many of her films of the 1990s were hits not
only in North America, but also abroad. In 1994, Ryan won Harvard's Hasty
Pudding Woman of the Year. That same year, People Magazine dubbed her one
of "the 50 most beautiful people in the world." In 1995, critic Richard
Corliss called her "the current soul of romantic comedy." That same year,
she appeared opposite Kevin Kline in Lawrence Kasdan's French Kiss, a
romantic comedy that catered to her America's Sweetheart persona. The film
grossed slightly over $100 million.
In 1997, Ryan voiced the lead role in the animated film Anastasia, which
garnered good reviews and enjoyed box office success. In 1998, Ryan
starred in two films. City of Angels drew positive reviews and became a
financial success, topping nearly $200 million worldwide. You've Got Mail
once again paired Ryan with Hanks, earning her a third Golden Globe
nomination and making over $250 million worldwide. She also appeared in
1998's Hurlyburly with Sean Penn.
In 2000, Ryan starred in the action thriller Proof of Life opposite
Russell Crowe. Though the film was a critical and commercial flop, her $15
million paycheck established her as one of the highest paid actresses in
That same year, Ryan starred opposite Diane Keaton in the comedy, Hanging
Up, which received poor reviews, and grossed slightly over $51 million;
however, the budget for the film was $60 million. A year later, she once
again returned to her romantic comedy roots in the film, Kate & Leopold.
In 2003, she broke away from her usual roles, starring in Jane Campion's
erotic crime thriller In the Cut. Though Ryan's decision to appear nude in
a lengthy and rather graphic love scene for the first time in her career
earned her much media attention, the movie failed with critics and grossed
only $23 million in theaters.
George Gallo's My Mom's New Boyfriend (originally titled Homeland
Security, and released in Australia and New Zealand as My Spy) was shot in
the fall of 2006, in Shreveport, Louisiana, and released in 2008. The
romantic comedy stars Ryan opposite Antonio Banderas. Ryan was joined by
former co-star Tom Hanks's son, Colin, who plays her son in the film. In
2007 she played the role of Sarah Hardwicke in In the Land of Women,
co-starring Adam Brody and Kristen Stewart.
Ryan's next project was a remake of 1939's The Women and began filming in
New York in August 2007. The $18 million remake of the George Cukor
classic was directed by Murphy Brown creator Diane English and produced by
the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger. Ryan played the central character, Mary
Haines, a wealthy woman who is one of the last to find out that her
husband is cheating on her with a shop girl. The leading role was
originally made famous by actress Norma Shearer. Annette Bening, Eva
Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett and Candice Bergen also starred in the
Ryan appeared in The Deal, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film
Festival. The film was never distributed but was released on DVD in 2009.
Her most recent film project is the upcoming comedy Serious Moonlight
which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009.
In June 2009, it was reported that Ryan will guest star on the seventh
season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Ryan married actor Dennis Quaid on Valentine's Day 1991, after starring in
two films with him. Ryan agreed to marry him only after he kicked his
cocaine addiction. Quaid and Ryan had one child together, Jack Henry, born
on April 24, 1992. The couple separated in 2000, their divorce became
final on July 16, 2001. In September 2008, Ryan revealed Quaid had been
unfaithful to her for a long time while they were married.
Meg Ryan had a relationship with actor Russell Crowe for a few months in
2000 before divorcing her husband; however, the relationship did not last.
In January 2006, Ryan adopted a 14-month-old girl from China named Daisy