America's girl-next-door takes on romance, revenge and man-eating dinosaurs
Clad in leather and sporting Heather Locklear-esque dark roots in her
chopped hair, Meg Ryan takes charge of Addicted to Love like a raptor
with a mean streak. In this romantic comedy, Ryan's Maggie is not the
kind of girl who falls in love with a voice on the radio or fakes orgasm
in a deli. Instead, she's got a broken heart and a twisted mind--and a
hilarious bent for scorched-earth revenge on the guy who dumped her.
It should come as no surprise that the effervescent Ryan can access some
dark, bubble-free depths. In the past three years, she's played an alcoholic
(When a Man Loves a Woman), a madwoman (Restoration) and a military commander
of uncertain capability (Courage Under Fire).
Of course, frothy comedies--like the huge hits When Harry Met Sally and
Sleepless in Seattle--are what made her a bankable star.
But there's another reason the 35-year-old actress keeps coming back
to optimistic romances. (Even Addicted has a happy ending.) Personal experience
tells her that's how things go.
Raised in a troubled Connecticut family--mom ran off to try acting when
Meg was a kid--Ryan struggled to establish her own nuclear unit with Dennis
Quaid, a womanizer with a drug problem when they fell in love. Ryan straightened
out Quaid and, in turn, got a model husband, father and sometime costar.
Clearly, anyone who can manage a feat like that in Hollywood would have
no trouble being versatile and persuasive in front of the camera, too.
I think people are going to look at you differently
after they see you in Addicted. Then again, when Courage Under Fire came
out last year, the media buzzed that you were finally outgrowing the America's
Sweetheart thing, too.
How long do I stay in the departure lounge? I feel like everyone's been
saying that to me for, like, the last three movies. I've played a heroin
addict and a speed freak and dark characters throughout my career. But
I understand that people have this image of me from Sleepless in Seattle.
I don't even think I did that character right, but that's the movie most
people saw. It's ironic, in a weird way.
You keep making romantic comedies. That's your
I just love to do them. I'm a sucker for a funny script. And then, as
soon as I don't wanna be, one comes along and grabs me.
Maggie's a little more frightening than funny.
She is mean, but it comes from kind of a hurt place. Like all the characters
in the movie, they're different than you first think. But she does get
her revenge in a very original way. And she never gets sentimental, which
in itself is pretty brave. I've never played somebody so flamboyant or
What's the worst thing you ever did to get back
at an ex-boyfriend?
Nothing, really. I wish I had been that vengeful at some point, if only
to help promote this movie.
With any luck, it won't inspire any copycat
You should've seen this movie in front of the ratings board. They were
trying and trying and trying to get a PG, and there was just no way it
was going to happen. There's not one swear word in the movie--well, maybe
one. But it was just that the whole concept was perverse enough for them
to give it an R. They were reading off the things we'd have to eliminate
to get a PG, and the ratings-board guy was laughing. "That was a
great line," he'd say. "You have to lose it, though."
Funny, people get torn in half in The Lost World:
Jurassic Park--against which Addicted to Love is opening--and it's rated
PG-13. How come you don't make nice, family-oriented blockbusters like
I'm really not interested in event movies. A lot of times, the women in
those movies are only powerful in terms of their anger or sexuality, which
is kind of what Maggie is--angry and powerful--but she's got a lot of
other complicating issues. And it's funny.
Yes, but is that enough to keep your movie from
being devoured by the dinosaurs?
Well, we know it's a good movie. But it is frustrating sometimes. This
industry, and people in general, are more interested in the horse-race
aspect of the box-office chart than the quality of the movies. And the
insidious thing is that people will either see a movie because it did
well last weekend or won't see it because it didn't do well.
It's interesting to know that Independence Day
or the original Jurassic Park made all that money. But those are entirely
different kinds of things. And who cares, five years down the road, what
most movies made or didn't make? If it's good, it stands up.
So, success does have its drawbacks.
The conventional wisdom is that independent films are the good ones these
days. Why don't you make more of them?
I have that sensibility. It's much more natural for me to do a smaller
idea than a bigger idea. But in a way, I feel like I'd pollute the thing.
Because of whatever star status I'd bring to the project, it'd jack up
the expectations. I don't want to say I can't do those movies, because
I really want to. Some of these independent filmmakers are incredible.
I dunno. I have a very good life, so I have nothing to complain about. Sometimes,
I just have existential angst.
He's really good. He's going to direct a movie for TNT. He's all excited,
shooting it in Montana, near our ranch. Then he's in the remake of The
Parent Trap, which is one of my top-five favorite movies.
How do you pass the time when he's off working
and you're not?
As a mom, I feel like I'm the most boring person in the universe. I think
I should have hobbies or something, y'know? But I'm a mom, man. That takes
up most of my time.
Your son, Jack, just turned five. How are you
going to handle it when he starts school in the fall?
Is he one of the reasons you're the lead voice
in Anastasia in the big animated feature Fox is bringing out in the fall?
Well, I'm not looking forward to it, but what am I gonna do, not send
I don't know what the motivation was. I was just totally won over by these
animators. They did a presentation in which they animated people I knew--and
me. Then they showed me all these huge, watercolor drawings of what St.
Petersburg palace was going to look like. I was, like, "Okay, I'll
do what you want." I was really caught up with them.
Sounds cute. Still, Rasputin and Bolsheviks
and the assassinated Russian royal family sounds like strange stuff to
base a colorful cartoon musical on.
Doesn't it? But it really is about a girl who's looking for her family.
And right now, you're making a movie about an
angel who's looking for love.
City of Angels. It's loosely based on the Wim Wenders movie Wings of Desire--a
Nicolas Cage is the angel, right?
Yeah. Some of the conventions are the same, like the angels can hear thoughts,
but we don't know they're there. It's mainly the last part of the Wenders
film, where he falls in love with the trapeze artist. But I'm not falling
for anything; I'm a heart surgeon.
And it's directed by?
The guy who made Casper?
Yeah, it's the only other thing he's done. But, man, he knows what he's
And with you and Nic, I'd say he's in good hands.
Despite all the girl-next-door labeling, you have a pretty good record
of interesting performances, even in movies that aren't so swift.
Well, y'know, I did a soap opera for a long time. A lot of it was so vapid,
and you had to keep trying to make it about something that, generally,
the words weren't about. It's surprising, because a lot of what an actor
does isn't about what you say, it's how you behave. The challenge is to
fill in all the stuff behind it. It's easy enough to render a scene, but
to make a person say those words...that's the trick.