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Meg Ryan - Biography

The Hollywood actress starred in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, and You've Got Mail

Close up of Meg Ryan smiling
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
Updated: 16 November 2023
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Meg Ryan is probably always going to be best remembered for her role in the movie When Harry Met Sally, where she swiftly established herself as a queen of romantic comedy - a position she consolidated with roles in Sleepless In Seattle, French Kiss and You've Got Mail.

America's Sweetheart

Born on 19 November 1961, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. Radiating charm and what was to become her trademark grin, she was voted "cutest" pupil by her fellow classmates in high school. But America's Sweetheart, as she is known, hasn't always had it so good. Her mother Susan left the family nest in order to pursue dreams of a career in acting, leaving her husband Harry, a maths teacher, to bring up Meg and her three siblings. The estrangement this caused between mother and daughter remains, despite pleas for a reconciliation from her mum.

Support act

While studying journalism in New York Meg began taking on advertising jobs as a means of supporting herself. Obtaining a Screen Actor's Guild card using her mother's maiden name of Ryan, she swiftly moved on to television roles and in 1985 settled in LA where, a year later, she got her big break in the massively successful Top Gun. Other supporting roles followed before she landed her first starring role in Innerspace, alongside Dennis Quaid. 

Love life

And it wasn't just her career that blossomed on the movie set - Meg also fell for her handsome co-star. The couple were wed on Valentine's Day 1991, after the tousle-haired actress had helped her fiancé to kick his drug problem. What was thought to have been one of the most solid marriages in Hollywood came apart in 2000, however, when it was revealed that she had struck up an off-set relationship with her Proof Of Life, co-star Russell Crowe

Divorce proceedings were instigated, and despite rumours of a reconciliation and the demise of Meg's relationship with Crowe, the couple separated. Devoted parents, the two were intent on negotiating an amicable split in order to limit the pain and heartache caused to their son Jack.

No matter how uncertain the future of her private life may be, however, Meg's position as one of Hollywood's top leading ladies seems secure. After a two-year break following 2001's romantic comedy Kate & Leopold, Meg returned to work with a vengeance, with the boxing drama Against The Ropes and the Jane Campion-directed In The Cut.

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