At 41 years old, Meg Ryan reinvents herself with “In the Cut,” the erotic thriller from director Jane Campion. Despite having done only seven romantic comedies and twenty-three other films, Ryan is still pegged as “America’s Sweetheart.”
But with her latest thriller, Ryan proves that she has versatility. Originally to star Nicole Kidman, “In the Cut” tells the story of Frannie Avery, an independent New York City writing professor who develops an intimate, sexual, and dangerous relationship with a mysterious detective named Malloy. Malloy is investigating a murder in Frannie neighborhood that may or may not be related to Frannie.
Ryan talked about this very different and complicated role at a press day in NYC recently.
People keep saying that this film is different for you, when in fact you’ve many other films which are not romantic comedies. Is it tiring to have to prove how good you are?
Oh my God, I’m going to cry. (Laughs) It really is a different kind of movie than what I’ve done before. The movie really is an interior exploration. It’s a genre I’ve never done before so I can see why people put me in that spot with romantic comedies.
What was the attraction of the script?
When I read the script, I felt like there was something very familiar about it. I felt that not just Franny’s character, but the other characters were near me. I felt that I sort of worked on this place in my subconscious/unconscious world that was hiding and as a piece, I loved it. Plus, the idea of working with [director] Jane Campion was really it.
When you have to do steamy sex scenes like in this film, do you have to go build that trust between the actor and director?
It’s something that you cultivate but it’s pretty easy to start in a good place. I think everybody in the movie obviously read the script and [knew] what you’re about to attempt. It’s something we talked about. We talked a lot about sex and what was erotic. I think we covered it globally and thematically and intellectually at first.
You’re obviously though not too much like your own character. How do you find a commonplace to draw her emotions from?
I think that I have definitely some part of me that understand that, absolutely. I think most people probably do.
Can you talk about what this film says about the modern day woman living in New York City, especially with people’s vulnerability after 9-11?
It’s kind of a beautiful alignment with the landscape that we’re shooting in. “In the cut,” “In the wound,” “In the gash.” I remember [thinking] that there was this hole or gash in the city like an open wound, you know? I think that’s way deep in there in Fran and a lot of the characters. I think it’s just such a romantic gesture for Detective Malloy to come get her there.
What was it like working with Jane Campion?
Everybody on the set was just inspired to be the best version of they could possibly be. It’s not to any demand of Jane. I was so impressed all of time with prospect. I felt this was an extraordinary experience with this end product where we’re all trying to be beautiful. I remember her saying, “It’s fun to make sure everyday is meaningful and everyday feels good.” She curves our artistry and I think with that lies such a beautiful and spiritual relationship. There is just a boldness to Jane that is so invigorating. Part of Franny that isn’t interested in pleasing or authentic relationships is all Jane.
Do you think this movie says something about a moral decay with relationships nowadays, with marriages, and divorces, etc…?
I think it’s great to make conscious too that the relationship seems to be frustrated between this romantic ideal. For instance, Franny’s relationship; she’s in a very heartbroken place. She’s been frustrated with the relationship idea of “happily ever after.” “Happily ever after” has passed her vibe. I think that when you make that conscious, and you look at it, many people [will find that they] have that in common as well. You don’t find the “big fixer,” you don’t find the one that makes it all O.K.
"In the Cut" opens in limited release on October 22nd and will open wide October 31st.