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Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (born November 19, 1961), professionally known as Meg Ryan, is an American film actress whose lead roles in five 1990s romantic comedies - When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, City of Angels and You've Got Mail - grossed over $870 million worldwide.

Early years

Ryan was born in Connecticutmarker, 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 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 Connecticutmarker and then at New York Universitymarker, while acting in television commercials to earn extra money. Her success as an actress led her to drop out of college a semester before graduating.

Early career

At age 18, through her mother's connections, Ryan booked her first television commercial, doing chin-ups and giggling to promote "Tickle" deodorant.

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).

Hit films

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 Delicatessenmarker in Manhattanmarker.

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 disappointment.)
Meg Ryan in 2006.
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 Harvardmarker'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 Hollywoodmarker.

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.Ryan was quickly mentioned in Adam Sandler's 1995 movie Billy Madison. In the scene comedian Norm MacDonald asks Sandler "Who would you rather bone? Jack Nicholson or Meg Ryan?" Sandler says "Jack Nicholson now or 1974?" MacDonald says "74" Sandler then says "Meg Ryan".

Recent projects

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, Louisianamarker, 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 and Candice Bergen also starred in the remake.

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.

Marriage and children

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 True.

Political involvement

Ryan has supported the U.S. Democratic Party, especially its environmental protection programs and initiatives. In 2003, she supported Wesley Clark's campaign for U.S. president. She supported John Kerry during the 2004 presidential elections.


Year Film Role Notes
1981 Rich and Famous Debby Blake, 18 years George Cukor film
1983 Amityville 3-D Lisa Richard Fleischer film
1986 Top Gun Carol Bradshaw Tony Scott film
Armed and Dangerous Maggie Cavanaugh
1987 Promised Land Beverly 'Bev' Sykes First film to be commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival
Innerspace Lydia Maxwell
1988 D.O.A. Sydney Fuller
The Presidio Donna Caldwell Peter Hyams film
1989 When Harry Met Sally... Sally Albright Rob Reiner film
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1990 Joe Versus the Volcano DeDe/Angelica Graynamore/Patricia Graynamore John Patrick Shanley film
1991 The Doors Pamela Courson Oliver Stone film
1992 Prelude to a Kiss Rita Boyle Norman René film
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Annie Reed Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Flesh and Bone Kay Davies Steve Kloves film
1994 When a Man Loves a Woman Alice Green Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture
I.Q. Catherine Boyd Fred Schepisi film
1995 French Kiss Kate Lawrence Kasdan film
Also Producer
Restoration Katharine
1996 Courage Under Fire CPT Karen Emma Walden Edward Zwick film
1997 Addicted to Love Maggie Griffin Dunne film
Anastasia Anastasia (voice)
1998 City of Angels Dr. Maggie Rice
Hurlyburly Bonnie Play adaptation
You've Got Mail Kathleen Kelly Nora Ephron film
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2000 Hanging Up Eve Mozell Marks Diane Keaton film
Proof of Life Alice Bowman Taylor Hackford film
2001 Kate & Leopold Kate McKay James Mangold film
2003 In the Cut Frannie Jane Campion film
2004 Against the Ropes Jackie Kallen
2007 In the Land of Women Sarah Hardwicke Jon Kasdan film
2008 The Deal Deidre Heam Steven Schachter film
My Mom's New Boyfriend Martha Durand Limited international release
The Women Mary Haines Diane English film.
2009 Serious Moonlight Louise Cheryl Hines film. Theatrical release date set for December 2009.

Year Title Role Notes
1982 As the World Turns Betsy Stewart Montgomery Andropoulos 1 episode
ABC Afterschool Special Denise Episode 'Amy and the Angel'
One of the Boys Jane Series cancelled after 13 episodes
1984-85 Charles in Charge Meagan Parker 2 episodes
1990-91 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Dr. Blight (voice) Cast member
2007 The Simpsons Dr. Swanson 1 episode 'Yokel Chords'
2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm Herself Season 7

Year Film Role Notes
1994 A Century of Cinema Herself Documentary with film personalities.
2002 Searching for Debra Winger Herself Rosanna Arquette film


  1. Meg Ryan from The Numbers
  2. Graham, Caroline. "Meg and Dennis: It's All Over" You. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  3. Meg Ryan Biography (1961-)
  4. Davidson, Sara. "Meg Ryan: Isn't She Romantic?" Reader's Digest. February 2002.
  5. Star Lite, Star Bright. a May 22, 1995 Time magazine article
  6. Laporte, Nicole. "Macy Gets 'Deal:' Actor Co-Wrote Ryan Starrer" Variety. 13 February 2007.
  7. More Than You Know [1] at IMDB
  8. Schwartz, Missy. "Wonder 'Women.'" Entertainment Weekly. 15 June 2007.
  9. Meg Ryan to guest star on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Entertainment Weekly. 19 June 2009
  10. Meg's Back - Public Pain
  11. Meg Dumped Russell, Not Vice-Versa - Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe :
  12. Meg Ryan Adopts a Girl - Birth, Meg Ryan :
  13. - Bon Jovi hosts $1 million fundraiser for John Kerry

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