- Birthname: Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
- Date of birth: 1961-11-19
- Birthplace: Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
- Height: 5' 8"
- Nationality: American
- Profession: actress, producer
BiographyRyan was born in Fairfield, Connecticut and went by the name Peggy (also her grandmother's nickname) as a child. Her mother, Susan Ryan Jordan, who had done some professional acting in television commercials and had worked as an assistant casting director in New York, encouraged and supported Ryan's study of professional acting technique when Meg was still in grade school. By age 13, Ryan was studying Stanislavsky's Method Acting Technique. At age 14, through her mother's connections, she booked her first television commercial, doing chin-ups & giggling to promote "Tickle" Deodorant. After graduating from
Bethel High School in 1979, she studied journalism at New York University. She acted in television commercials to earn extra money while in school. After her first role in a feature film, Rich and Famous (1981), Ryan (now using her screen name) played Betsy Stewart on the daytime drama As the World Turns from 1982 to 1984. Directors for this show especially liked working with her because she could cry on cue.
After several TV film and smaller movie roles, her first full-blown hit in a leading role was the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally... (1989). It was favorably received and typecast Ryan as a bubbly, charming, feisty, but incurable romantic. She made several attempts to break away from this stereotype, and garnered some critical acclaim for her work in When a Man Loves a Woman (in which she played an alcoholic) and Courage Under Fire (in which she played a military officer killed in combat). Many of her films of the 1990s were hits not only in North America, but also abroad. She had a very popular on-screen pairing with Tom Hanks: some compared their chemistry to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. They starred in three films together, and their last, (1998's You've Got Mail), was Ryan's last major box office success for some years to come.
Ryan married actor Dennis Quaid on Valentine's Day in 1991, after starring in two films with him. Ryan only agreed to marry him after he kicked his drug and alcohol addiction. Quaid and Ryan have one child together, Jack Henry, born April 24, 1992. The couple divorced on July 16, 2001. Although Ryan had a relationship with actor Russell Crowe, with whom she was working on a movie, both she and Quaid deny it was a factor in their divorce. In a 2006 interview with Allure,
Ryan indicated that Quaid had not been faithful to her during their marriage.
It was during Ryan's marriage to Quaid that she had a falling out with her mother, over Quaid's alleged drug abuse. In interviews the actress cast her mother in a negative light, saying that her mother had abandoned her children to pursue an acting career. In response her mother, Susan Ryan Jordan, published a book in 1999 entitled "The Immune Spirit" about Jordan's struggle with breast cancer and her difficult relationship with her daughter, Meg. Her mother has since given many interviews which paint Ryan in a negative light. The two are now very notably estranged from one another.
In January 2006, Ryan brought her newly adopted daughter, one year old Daisy True, home from China.
Parkinson appearanceIn 2003, she broke away from her usual roles and starred in In the Cut, an erotic crime thriller which was unpopular with both critics and the public. In October 2003, while promoting this film in the UK, Ryan created a stir after her notoriously terse interview with talk-show host Michael Parkinson on the long-running television talk show Parkinson. Her behaviour, which included short one-word answers and telling Parkinson to "wrap it up", was lambasted by the British press. Their icy exchange would, in a 2006 survey of British TV viewers, even be voted the third "most shocking" TV talk show moment ever. Parkinson later confessed that Ms. Ryan's interview was his "most difficult TV moment" ever, adding, "I should have closed it. But listen, it happens. She was an unhappy woman. I felt sorry for her. What I couldn't forgive her for was that she was rude to the other guests."
In response, via an interview with Marie Claire magazine in 2006, Ryan blamed Parkinson's perceived paternal manner, saying:
"I don't even know the man. That guy was like some disapproving father! It's crazy. I don't know what he is to you guys, but he's a nut. I felt like he was berating me for being naked in the movie. He said something like: 'You should go back to doing what you were doing'. And I thought, are you like a disapproving dad right now? I'm not even related to you. Back off, buddy. I was so offended by him."
The episode also brought into sharp focus the difference between the UK's publicly funded BBC, which has no advertisements, and US commercial networks which, due to their frequent commercial breaks, often allow guests additional time to formulate their answers:
"I realized it's not like an American talk show where it's seven minutes and then there's a commercial break. I had to do 20 minutes straight with this guy, and I could either walk off — which wouldn't be good — or try to disagree with him very respectfully."
- Asteroid 8353 Megryan was named after her.
- Performed back-up vocals on Melissa Etheridge's song Heal Me
- Ryan is an outspoken liberal and supported John Kerry during the 2004 presidential elections.
- Ryan recently talked with Oprah Winfrey (March 1, 2006, The Oprah Winfrey Show) about her work with CARE in India and empowering women in poor countries.
- Ryan turned down the role of Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct.