Australian director Jane Campion worked wonders with Nicole Kidman
in Portrait of a Lady and steered Holly Hunter to an Academy Award
in The Piano. So it's not too surprising the critics are already
tipping Meg Ryan for an Oscar for her performance in Campions
dark thriller In the Cut. Virgin.net caught up with the star and
her director during a recent visit to London...
VN: Playing a sexually repressed English teacher who falls
for a homicide detective must have been a change after rom-coms
like When Harry Met Sally and Youve Got Mail. Did it take
a lot of courage to accept the role?
Meg Ryan : "I felt like I was in such sure hands with
Jane, I didn't really feel it required an extreme amount of bravery
on my part to trust her. But I do think the character I play is
extremely brave. She's a very unlikely person to risk her heart
for a guy, which is something you need a lot of bravery to do.
She's someone who's in kind of remission, who's so broken-hearted,
and who's so unlike anybody youd think would be able to
connect with somebody as extremely and deeply as she does with
VN: What was it that drew you to the story in the first place?
Jane Campion : "I think the story gave us the opportunity
to explore some of the situations that women are facing today
- women who are both dealing with their independence and also
the fact that their lives are built around satisfying the romantic
models we grew up with. The story shows how that model falls short
for us and creates an enormous amount of grief, and how women
spend their lives thinking that if theyre not with a partner
they don't really count. Theyre still searching for their
prince in their way, and as much as we dont discuss that,
because its embarrassing and sad, it really does exist."
Meg Ryan : "It's interesting for this film to be a
forum for that kind of discussion, because if it's unexpressed
it's even more frustrating. A lot of my friends have seen the
movie and deeply relate to that aspect of it - that romantic myths
don't apply to them, and how heartbreaking that can feel."
VN: There are some rather raunchy sex scenes between you and
co-star Mark Ruffalo. Were you worried about them and how they
would affect how people see you?
Meg Ryan : "It's not a day you look forward to when
you see it coming up on the schedule, but in the end it was a
really protective environment, we knew every shot and angle, it
was very well choreographed and Jane was incredibly collaborative
about it. As far as my so-called image goes... I don't really
think about whatever idea of me is out there, and I certainly
wasn't reacting against it with this movie."
VN: What about the feel of the film? It's quite brooding and
Jane Campion : "My first responsibility was to the
story - if that's leaky everything goes. Once you've done that
you can work out how much atmosphere you want to put in. I try
to make the look of the film organic with the story, and also
to weave in references and feelings that remain with you after
the story finishes."
VN: You look very different in this film with your straight
brown hair. Did that affect your performance?
Meg Ryan : "You know, everything contributes. It was
kind of cool, because with my hair dyed brown I was able to walk
around New York and not be noticed, which hadn't happened in quite
a while. It was quite liberating actually - I liked it a lot.
And the other thing was my character really needed to be one of
those invisible women - she's definitely not a head-turner."
VN: Were you surprised to get a script as intense as this one?
Meg Ryan : "It wasn't like anything I usually receive
- I'd never done a thriller before, and this character was a really
interior person. Jane was really interested in expressing her
interior life on screen and finding a really different visual
language to do that. So that was a cool opportunity. I always
loved the movies from the '70s movies like Klute and Taxi
Driver and I thought Jane really hooked into that kind
VN: Finally, how would you compare faking an orgasm in bed
with Mark Ruffalo and faking an orgasm in a deli with Billy Crystal?
Meg Ryan : "It's much harder to fake it in a deli!"