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Here’s Why Meg Ryan is Not Getting Roles in Hollywood

By KK Angus, 26 June

Around 25 years ago Hollywood was ruled by a curly-haired blonde who changed the definition of a female lead on many levels. Before Meg Ryan, nobody really knew how to keep the humour fresh and spontaneous or how it's actually pulled off. Meg's casual humour and sunny attitude was a breath of fresh air in the '90s mainstream Hollywood.

But in the last decade or so, Meg has been missing in action. Why is it that Hollywood has let go of such a vivacious name like Meg Ryan? Someone who was a legit success and actually changed the showbiz game in so many ways. It’s not like she hasn’t been working but she hasn’t been able to stay relevant. Let's find out why.

1The comedy icon

Meg changed the game for mainstream rom-coms. In films like You've Got Mail or French Kiss Meg was a force to bring reckoned with. It is also important to remember that before Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock Hollywood's leading ladies were expected to be a certain way and would often just be represented as an accessory. Meg and Sandra, especially the former began experimenting with roles and making substantial modifications.

The comedy icon

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2The advent of the interesting female

Before Julia Roberts, there was Meg Ryan who paved the way for the funny and fierce woman even in romantic comedies. Meg took a leap and made sure each of her characters are not just token females but had a viable role and a reason to be there. Her signature comedy got better with every movie and resonated with the American audience. Also, Meg did not look like every other female lead and it was refreshing.

The advent of the interesting female

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3Her sense of comedy

Meg soon drew attention with her on-screen wit and comic timing. There is an incredible spontaneity in her which often makes her fans wonder if her role was unscripted. Film critics like Roger Ebert too had noticed exactly how emphatic Meg was in any film, irrespective of the genre. Roger Ebert once said about her performance in French Kiss, “Ryan does a breathtaking job with the age-old transformation scene, turning from a caterpillar into a butterfly by ditching her sweats and putting on one of those French designer dresses that look like gift wrapping.”

Meg Ryan in french kiss

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4America's sweetheart

Nora Ephron who has worked with Meg in many movies once referred to her as America's Sweetheart and Meg really was wildly popular and also got the best offers. Norah and Meg would also get together for several blockbusters hits like You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle which is also the films which gave Meg Ryan her brand. But unfortunately, the genre which made her a success changed radically over the past few years.


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525 years of Sleepless

The iconic film Sleepless in Seattle just completed 25 years. The film starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks still remains one of the most interesting romantic films of all times. At its anniversary Meg's fans couldn't help but note Meg's absence from the limelight. Not only has Meg not been in any movies lately but she has largely been missing from the cultural discussion. Plus, it would seem like she likes her time away from the arclights.

25 years of Sleepless

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6The wrong choices

It wasn't like Meg wasn't doing films but she as years passed she made done wrong choices which took a toll on her career. From mid to late 2000s she acted in a string of movies which failed to make an impact at box office. Films like Hanging Up and Proof of Life did not fare well and though Meg was a star she did need hits to stay relevant. One might even say people eventually stopped missing her.

The wrong choices

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7My Mom's New Boyfriend

One of her most disastrous films was the one called My Mom's New Boyfriend co-starring Antonio Banderas. The film which was shot in 2006 failed to get a theatrical release but had a DVD-only release. Needless to says it got very bad reviews and failed to impress her fans. Nobody could understand why Meg's films weren't working especially since rom-coms were her comfort zone. But she had just made too many consecutive bad choices.

My Mom

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8The death of rom-coms

Many people associate Meg's irrelevance to the death of rom-coms. Romantic comedies did not die exactly but it evolved a lot over time. In spite of having a fantastic range as an actress, Meg primarily came to be associated with this genre. As she aged, she naturally wasn't the focus of the new-age romance films anymore. In her 40s especially Meg lost out on quite a few roles and was not cast as the female lead anymore.

The death of rom-coms

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9Her indie success

Meg has tried her hands at indie movies and though she didn't fare well she did prove her mettle. The films weren’t bad exactly, they just did not leave a mark. For instance, her films like Serious Moonlight or The Women had quite stunning performances but did not make money. As a result, Meg never really made it as an indie sensation, despite her acting chops. And indie films do not always make it to the Oscars or the festival circuits sadly.

Her indie success

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10The hiatus

After a three-year hiatus which did not help her career, she made a comeback with the film In The Land of Women, which got rave reviews but did not exactly boost meg’s career. Even after that, two of her films flopped and anybody else would be quite worried if they were in Meg’s position, but she wasn’t going to bow to pressure. “I didn’t have to care what people thought. I have gotten to do what I guess I secretly wanted to do. Be totally under the radar and live my life,” she said.

The hiatus

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11Too choosy

It wasn’t clear if Meg had become too choosy with her projects or whether she was just not getting the kind of roles she is used to playing. She definitely deserves good scripts and yet Hollywood hasn’t exactly been kind to her especially post 2010. Almost all of her films seemed to be failing and she was never exactly a style icon or a social media star, and as a result she went almost completely missing.

Too choosy

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12Her missed opportunities

Meg did try her luck outside acting. She made her directorial debut in 2015 with the film Ithaca which got moderate reviews. “Once you do it, you get the bug… I like the behind-the-scenes thing. I really do. Acting for a while was really fun and it still is—but directing is something even more,” she said. After a four-year hiatus, she tried her luck with the web series Web Therapy and even did a voice-over for the How I Met Your Mother spin-off, but that project never took off.

Her missed opportunities

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13Her messy personal life

Her separation with actor Dennis Quaid made news for all the wrong reasons. Meg revealed that Dennis had been cheating on her for a long time. They divorced in 2001 after which Meg had a brief relationship with Russell Crowe. But her messy split with Dennis hardly helped Meg in any way. In fact, it took away attention from her career as people were only interested in her split.

Her messy personal life

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14What she said

“Dennis was not faithful to me for a very long time, and that was very painful. I found out more about that after I was divorced… [But] I am not a victim. I was there. I was in that marriage for a really long time… The tabloid culture can’t tell a complicated story,” she revealed. Speaking of tabloid culture, Meg has consciously stayed away from the paparazzi, which might have given her peace but took a lot of her relevance away.

What she said

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15She is not Julia Roberts

Interestingly, Meg’s contemporaries like Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts have held onto their fame. Sandra is still working and just had a hit with Ocean’s 8. Julia hardly needs films to stay in the limelight. But Meg was never that big of a star like Julia, and she is not consistently working like Sandra, who got a lot better as she grew older. But Meg wasn’t just choosy but also made some really bad career decisions.

She is not Julia Roberts

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