The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Meg Ryan Anymore

Meg Ryan was the girl next door in the 90s. Her blond shag haircut made her a style icon of the time and her personality made her a favorite in Hollywood. The actress, born in 1961, rose to fame for her role in the 1981 film Rich and Famous (via MSN).

She went on to star in Amityville III: The Demon in 1983, experimenting with the horror genre. Following that movie, Ryan scored a role in Top Gun in 1986. Her big moment in Hollywood was when she starred in the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally (via MSN). Ryan booked several other major gigs such as Joe Versus the Volcano in 1990 opposite Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and The Doors.

With such an impressive film resume, it's hard to imagine why Ryan shied away from Hollywood later in life. So what happened to America's sweetheart?

Meg's love life took attention away from her career

Ryan met Dennis Quaid on the set of Innerspace and they quickly sparked a romance. According to MSN, they got married in 1991 and later welcomed a son and a daughter. Their marriage started to crumble and in 2000, Ryan decided to get a divorce from Quaid.

Around that same time, she met Russell Crowe on the set of Proof of Life. Ryan and Crowe started dating and the timeline of their relationship led people to think they were having an affair while she was still with Quaid. Ryan's relationship with Crowe changed Hollywood's view of the "squeaky-clean persona she'd cultivated from a decade of rom-com success," as InStyle noted.

The scandal took a huge toll on Ryan, who was 37 at the time. She told W Magazine back in October 2000, "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). Her relationship to Crowe ended in December 2000, according to InStyle.

Meg was burned out being an actress

After Ryan's relationship drama started to overshadow her career, she distanced herself from Hollywood. Her role in the 2003 film In the Cut was met with harsh criticism and she told The New York Times in 2019, "I think the feeling with Hollywood was mutual. I felt done when they felt done, probably."

She then transitioned to directing in the 2015 film Ithaca. The shift from actor to director gave her a different perspective on acting. "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 told The New York Times.

Ryan also rose to fame at a young age, which didn't allow her the space to grow outside of Hollywood. She told The New York Times, "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."

Meg was faced with ageism in Hollywood as she got older

Ryan was typecast in Hollywood as the "girl next door" in several of her romantic comedies. The issue with that label was that it didn't allow her to develop or gain other more serious roles — and by the time she got older, nobody wanted to book her as "America's sweetheart." She told The New York Times it was hard to book roles due to her age. "The pressure was implicit. How you look — there's so much judgment."

Despite Hollywood's ageism, Ryan embraced getting older and revealed she loved the new experiences she's had with each year. "I love my age. I love my life right now... I love the person I've become, the one I've evolved into," she told Good Morning America in 2015. Ryan might've shied away from acting, but her past roles in film still remain as popular and iconic as they were when they first hit theaters.