Here's Why We Don't See Much Of Meg Ryan Anymore

It would be tough to binge on a ton of romantic comedies and not run into Meg Ryan. The blonde beauty was pretty much the queen of 90s meet-cute stories and the world fell totally in love with her. Who could resist? She basically invented the scrunched nose and that shag haircut that was so iconic of 90s style. And how about those big, heavy boots she wore? There really was no one like Meg Ryan.

The actress, born in 1961, according to MSN, rose to serious stardom in the 90s and became a household name. But then Ryan's career seemed to stop. While we still love Ryan to bits, we have to pause and ask: where did she go?

Ryan went from being our collective American crush to fading away. So why don't we see her anymore? Don't worry. We've got some answers to the big question: what happened to America's sweetheart?

Why did Meg Ryan burn out so quickly?

According to MSN, Meg Ryan first displayed her acting chops in the film Rich and Famous by George Cukor in 1981, making Ryan exactly 20-years-old. Not a bad way to launch a career!

She then worked on Amityville III: The Demon in 1983 and slowly worked through the horror genre and television to land some high-profile Hollywood roles. As MSN says, Ryan then landed a role in Top Gun in 1986, followed by, you guessed it, her 1989 role in When Harry Met Sally, which may very well be the most iconic film Ryan ever did. Her chemistry with co-star Billy Crystal and her fake orgasm scene in the diner pushed her into major celebrity status. It was unforgettable!

She then met Tom Hanks on the set of Joe Versus the Volcano in 1990 and they became another iconic on-screen couple, following up the comedy with other classics like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. Ryan was also a hit in The Doors, appearing opposite Val Kilmer and it was this film that pushed her out of the rom-com rut where she could have potentially found herself stuck. Around this time, she met Dennis Quaid on Innerspace and married him in 1991, according to MSN. Together, Ryan and Quaid had a son.

It seemed like everything was going great for Ryan. So what the heck happened?

Was the collapse of Meg Ryan's career Russel Crowe's fault?

Things changed in 2000, when Meg Ryan starred alongside Hollywood's bad boy, Russell Crowe, in Proof of Life. The couple started a romance right around the same time Ryan decided to divorce her husband, Dennis Quaid. Because of how quickly her new relationship began, people assumed Ryan and Crowe were having an affair. Ryan's union with Crowe painted her in a totally different light. As In Style says, Ryan's "squeaky-clean persona she'd cultivated from a decade of rom-com success was overwritten by her perceived indiscretions."

Ryan was 37-years-old at the time of these allegations and she told W Magazine how ruthless the public was towards her: "I found myself in a hotel lobby in London a few months ago, thinking, all of a sudden, 'So this is what it feels like to be the Scarlet Woman.' Oh! I'm having that experience now!" (via E! News.) Despite all the attention and hype, Ryan and Crowe fizzled out as a couple by December 2000, according to In Style.

But the scandal involving Crowe wasn't the only turning point in Ryan's career. She acted in the 2003 Jane Campion film In the Cut, which was met with scathing reviews and because of this, Ryan said to The New York Times: "I think the feeling with Hollywood was mutual. I felt done when they felt done, probably."

Meg Ryan gets candid about the tough side of acting

As her position in Hollywood shifted, Meg Ryan moved from acting to directing in the 2015 film Ithaca, a film centered around World War II, according to The New York Times. A shift in roles gave Ryan a new perspective on her life and she said in an interview with the news outlet that she became profoundly disconnected from herself. 

Ryan said: "I was burned out. I didn't feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated," according to The New York Times.

Ryan added that being famous as a young person was very confusing, saying: "You're at a disadvantage as a young, famous person because you don't know who's telling you the truth. I'm not complaining — there are so many advantages to being famous — but there are fundamental disadvantages for a part of your brain, your self, your soul. My experiences were too limited."

It's nice to have Ryan notice her privilege but also to be honest about the tough side of fame. 

Meg Ryan blames ageism in Hollywood

While looking back on her career, Meg Ryan has given some serious thought to the way women are typecast in Hollywood. In an interview with The New York Times in 2019, Meg Ryan pushed back against her former label of "America's sweetheart," saying that labels like that don't allow for the full expression of a person. Ryan also spoke about ageism in Hollywood and said: "The pressure was implicit. How you look — there's so much judgment."

It's so totally unfair that Hollywood and audiences were too limited to see Ryan as anything other than a young, blonde, love interest. However, Ryan seems to have risen above this narrowness in her own way. She told Porter Magazine (via Good Morning America) in 2015: "I love my age. I love my life right now... I love the person I've become, the one I've evolved into."

While things may not be the same as they once were, Ryan seems to have captured a level of peace and tranquility that leaves her detached from public opinion and that may be the best thing yet. So you know what? We'll have what she's having.