Celebrities Without Comebacks: The rise and fall of Meg Ryan, once America's sweetheart and rom-com queen

Meg Ryan was a popular face back in the 90s and had gifted fans numerous blockbusters. What went wrong for the famed actor?


                            Celebrities Without Comebacks: The rise and fall of Meg Ryan, once America's sweetheart and rom-com queen
Meg Ryan (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Meg Ryan, the 90's sweetheart of many romantic comedies, rose and rose until she eventually fell out of favor with audiences. What went wrong with the rom-com queen?

Throughout the '80s, Ryan starred in several well-known films as a supporting actress, the prominent ones being 'Top Gun', 'Innerspace' and 'The Presidio'. It was during 'Innerspace' that she fell for Dennis Quaid and eventually went on to marry him till 2001. Around this time, Ryan was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in 'Promised Land', which was a slick critique of Ronald Reagan's domestic policies and their effect on American society.

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And then, along came 'When Harry Met Sally', her breakout role. Who could forget the lovable Sally Albright?  Written by Nora Ephron and based on Rob Reiner's experiences of being a single, divorced man, Ryan's cheery portrayal of the character won her much love and appreciation from critics and audiences alike. Ryan was not the first choice, as Reiner had approached others such as Molly Ringwald and Susan Dey before she landed the part. For a long time, things looked good for Ryan.

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Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid attend the premiere of Quaid's new film, "Savior" October 27, 1998 (File Photo / Getty Images)

After this, she starred in 'Joe Versus The Volcano' with Tom Hanks. The film did poorly at the box office but still managed to attain a cult status among fans. She did an unusual comedy 'Prelude To A Kiss' with Alec Baldwin that received mixed reviews. In 1993, she had another smashing hit, 'Sleepless In Seattle', where she worked with Hanks and Ephron again. The film did superbly and grossed over 200 million dollars during its theatrical run. 

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It was sunny in her paradise, as she did films like 'French Kiss', 'IQ' and 'Addicted To Love'. Ryan tried to avoid being typecast by taking on indie films such as 'Flesh And Bone' with her husband Dennis Quaid and 'Restoration', with Sam Neill and Robert Downey Jr. However, most of these films were ignored. 

Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe act in a scene in Taylor Hackford''s action-suspense drama, 'Proof Of Life' (publicity still / Getty Images)

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In 1998, Ryan cemented herself as the queen of romantic comedies with 'You've Got Mail', and was now making $10million each film. Her film 'City Of Angels' with Nicholas Cage grossed over 200million dollars at the box office. Desperate to try other genres, Ryan signed on for 'Proof Of Life', where she began her infamous affair with Russell Crowe, despite being married to Quaid.

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The tabloids exploded, and Ryan's image was slowly tarnished. Later, she and Quaid divorced and the film bombed. Ryan later commented, "I empowered myself by not staying in the thing with Russell. I felt it was going to be repeating some similar patterns that I'd just gotten out of and it was a drag because I was crazy about him."

Things took a turn for the worse. Ryan tried to return to her romcom pedestal with 'When Kate Met Leopold', starring Hugh Jackman. The film was slammed miserably and barely recouped the production budget. In 2003, she did an erotic thriller 'The Cut', which featured graphic sex scenes and she appeared nude for it. This was slammed as well. 

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Meg Ryan attends the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 5, 2017, in New York City (Getty Images)

'Kate And Leopold' was the last mainstream film that Ryan did. After that, she did several indie films, but none were well-received. In 2014, it was announced that she would steer 'How I met Your Dad', a spinoff of the popular sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother'. Unfortunately, the pilot episode was not picked up and the project failed. 

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Meg Ryan was the favorite rom-com queen, but soon quickly fell out of favor with audiences and there could be several reasons for this. It was perhaps her complicated personal life or the mere fact that audiences were growing out of the cheesy mush of romcoms and had other interests. Yet, all said and done, she still has a place in our hearts with films like 'When Harry Met Sally' and 'You've Got Mail'.

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