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Meg Ryan and Jane Campion promote In the Cut

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 Campion’s 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 You’ve 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 you’d think would be able to connect with somebody as extremely and deeply as she does with Detective Molloy."


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 they’re not with a partner they don't really count. They’re still searching for their prince in their way, and as much as we don’t discuss that, because it’s 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 intense...
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 of vibe."


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!"