Meg Ryan was affectionately dubbed America’s sweetheart at the peak of her career.
The actress starred in a string of rom-coms, including Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Addicted to Love and Hanging Up. But after a love scandal involving then-husband Dennis Quaid and Aussie actor Russell Crowe rocked her career in 2000, the actress appeared to retreat from the spotlight.
So what happened to the popular actress? Let’s take a look…
What happened to actress Meg Ryan?
Meg Ryan was the quintessential girl next door and a big-screen darling. After scoring bit roles in films such as Amityville III: The Demon, Top Gun and Armed and Dangerous, she became an instant success after starring in the cult comedy When Harry Met Sally in 1989. More rom-coms followed before Ryan seemingly hit slow-mo on her Hollywood career in the early 2000s.
At the time, Ryan was reportedly experiencing problems in her marriage to actor Dennis Quaid, who she married in 1991, four years after meeting on the set of the comedy Innerspace.
They were Hollywood’s golden couple, so it came as a shock to fans when they announced their separation in June 2000.
By 2001, the power couple were officially divorced.
From observation, it appears Ryan’s career was slowly being overshadowed by her personal life. Around the time of her divorce from Quaid, she was linked to Aussie actor Russell Crowe after photos of them looking cosy on the set of Proof of Life in 2000 circulated in the tabloids.
The perceived indiscretions seemed to change Hollywood’s view of Ryan as the squeaky-clean girl next door to the “Scarlet Woman” — her words — and coincidentally her career took a hit.
But while the actress takes full accountability for the demise of her marriage to Quaid, she said Crowe was unfairly implicated in her divorce.
“I think he took a big hit. But Russell didn’t break up the marriage,” she told InStyle. “He was definitely there at the end, but it wasn’t his fault. I was a mess. I hurt him, too, at the end. I couldn’t be in another long relationship, it wasn’t the time for that. So I got out.”
Shortly after her divorce, Ryan starred in two more films — In the Cut (2003) and Against the Rope (2004) — before taking a three-year hiatus from Hollywood.
“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,” she previously told The New York Times Magazine. “I felt like I was behind a window looking at my life.
“I remember thinking, I want to have my own thoughts. Also, it was hard to walk around anywhere. It was never about people being mean; it’s that I couldn’t move. I would sort of duck and cover, and that wasn’t what I wanted.”
She made a return in 2007 but has only starred in 13 projects since then.
Why did Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid divorce?
Meg Ryan says she had issues in her marriage to Dennis Quaid long before Russell Crowe came into the picture.
In a 2008 interview with InStyle, Ryan claimed Quaid was unfaithful in their nine-year marriage. And although the media painted them to be Hollywood’s golden couple, it was far from the truth.
“It was a great story. But what wasn’t in the story was the reality of my marriage for nine years,” Ryan — who shares son Jack, now 29, with Quaid — told the magazine. “Dennis was not faithful to me for a long time, and that was very painful. I found out more about that once I was divorced.”
Quaid quickly reacted to his ex’s tell-all interview, telling the New York Daily News, “It was eight years ago, and I find it unbelievable that Meg continues publicly to rehash and rewrite the story of our relationship. Also, I find it regrettable that our son, Jack, has to be reminded in a public way of the turmoil and pain that every child feels in a divorce.”
Speculation and accusations of infidelity aside, Ryan has always maintained their breakup had nothing to do with a third party.
“My marriage was a … very unhealthy marriage,” she said on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006. “I probably should have left it much earlier. I was very sad that it came apart in the way it seemed to have. It was never about another man. It was just about what my and Dennis’ relationship couldn’t sustain.
“I think once the tabloids get a hold of three celebrity names you’re just really in trouble … I didn’t leave my marriage for Russell Crowe. I left my marriage.”
As for Quaid, he later claimed fame played a major role in their breakup.
“My most successful relationship of my life,” Quaid said of Ryan during a 2018 interview with Megyn Kelly on NBC. “We met and I was the big deal … then we’d be out in the streets of New York and they’d be like, ‘Meg, Meg!’
“And I have to admit I kind of did feel like I disappeared. I didn’t think I was that small, but I was. It was a growth opportunity. I learned from that.”
Quaid was married to actress P.J. Soles before he married Ryan in 1991.
The actor then married estate agent Kimberly Buffington in 2004, with who he shares 12-year-old twins Thomas and Zoe. But they split in 2018 after 14 years.
He secretly married PhD Student Laura Savoie in June 2020.
What happened between Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe?
Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe met on the set of Proof of Life in 2000 and had instant chemistry.
Soon the rumour mill went into overdrive that the pair were more than friendly on set. People magazine reported that by the time Ryan announced her separation from Quaid, she was “extremely infatuated” with Crowe.
Her friend, late actress Carrie Fisher, said at the time that she didn’t blame Ryan because the Aussie actor was “a tough thing to resist”.
“I was just glad I had a friend that got him,” Fisher said. “If I can’t have him, I want to hear what he’s like — at some point, when she’s willing to talk.”
The relationship lasted for less than one year — they reportedly started dating in early 2000 and were broken up by Christmas that year.
And despite the optics of the situation, Ryan insisted her marriage with Quaid was already over before she embarked on a relationship with Crowe.
Still, the actress was painted in an unfavourable light and the negative attention seemingly took a toll on her career. It affected Ryan’s wellbeing too until one day, she had enough.
“I’d never felt like I was all that concerned with what people thought of me, but then that story never got told right,” she told The New York Times Magazine in 2019.
“It’s a real gift when you know you can’t ever really manage an image or a story and you stop caring. I felt the effect, like I was the bad guy or whatever the story was. But I remember letting go of needing to correct anybody.
“Divorce is hard. Love is hard. All those things were so personal. They weren’t for mass consumption. The complexity of a life or a marriage is never going to exist in a headline or a tabloid. That was a freeing thing to know!”
For the most part, Crowe has remained silent on his relationship with the Hollywood star, but he did give a rare statement following their split.
“Meg is a beautiful and courageous lady,” he told the Herald Sun in February 2001. “I grieve the loss of her companionship, but I haven’t lost her friendship.”
Crowe went on to marry Aussie actress and singer Danielle Spencer, who is the mother of his two children: Charles, 17, and Tennyson, 14. They separated in 2012 and finalised their divorce in 2018.
Who is Meg Ryan currently dating?
Meg Ryan has been dating country music star John Mellencamp on and off since 2010.
The couple reportedly became engaged in November of 2018 when the actress was seen sporting a diamond ring.
“Yes, I’m going to get married at some point. But for now this engagement thing is a state of grace,” she told InStyle at the time.
In another interview with The New York Times Magazine, Ryan said that age and maturity worked in their favour.
“What’s great about now is that John and I are so free to have fun,” she said. “Maybe that freedom is about being a million years old. But I sometimes think relationships are for aliens. Who does it? Who can do it? I don’t know how any of us ever do.”
However, they appeared to call off their engagement in late 2019, when Ryan was seen without her engagement ring while recently attending the Governor’s Awards that year.
There were rumours the exes reconciled late last year, but neither have confirmed the news.
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