Meg Ryan Is Returning To Acting: A Rundown Of Why She Took An 8-Year Break From Hollywood

 WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 04: Meg Ryan attends the 2021 amfAR Gala Los Angeles at Pacific Design Center on November 04, 2021 in West Hollywood, California
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 04: Meg Ryan attends the 2021 amfAR Gala Los Angeles at Pacific Design Center on November 04, 2021 in West Hollywood, California

Meg Ryan is the romantic comedy darling of the silver screen. Throughout the '80s and '90s, the actress starred in some of the most iconic rom-coms of all time like When Harry Met Sally..., You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle. However, after her directorial debut Ithaca in 2015, the Top Gun actress stepped away from Hollywood. Now, after an 8-year break from acting, Ryan is finally returning to the screen for the film What Happens Later, and she is opening up about what kept her away from the movie business for almost a decade.

Why Meg Ryan Left Hollywood

The rom-com actress was one of the most famous in Hollywood for over 30 years, but after directing her first film in 2015, she decided to take a well-needed break. As for why she stepped away, she has named her commitment to family and her uncomfortability with fame as primary reasons. In 2018, the Joe Versus The Volcano star revealed she never intended to act in the first place. She told Gwyneth Paltrow in 2018 (via ET):

I never wanted to be an actress. The whole idea of being a famous person ... I felt like a witness to, I didn’t feel exactly in it, and I think that was a really good thing. I felt like a student of it in a way, or that I was watching it in an anthropological way.

After a while, this relationship with fame and acting took a toll. She told the New York Times Magazine in 2019 that she felt the experience isolated her, and she felt burnt out after balancing being a mom and her acting career. She explained:

My son, Jack, graduated from high school on a Friday or Saturday. I moved back to New York from Los Angeles on the following Monday. 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 reiterated her commitment to her children and family as a reason for stepping away from show business in 2019 to People. Ryan explained that her ambitions weren’t fueled by her acting career, but rather, her family's happiness. She said:

Most of all, what I’m ambitious for in the 12 hours a day that I’m awake is my kids’ happiness. I just am. I’m either figuring out how to provide for them, figuring out how to say it right, figuring out all those mom things. I want them to be happy.

The Doors actress seemingly set a great example for her family during her break as her son, Jack Quaid, has become a big star himself, and he is currently starring on the hit Amazon series, The Boys. Her other child, Daisy True Ryan, is 19, and Meg Ryan has lovingly shared photos of her and Jack bonding on social media in the past. Her commitment to family is clear, and she seems to be happy she was able to take a step back and enjoy family life following her iconic career.

Meg Ryan in What Happens Later
Meg Ryan in What Happens Later

Meg Ryan's Return To The Big Screen

Thankfully for fans of Meg Ryan, the actress is making her return to the big screen in a major way. She is directing and starring in a new rom-com titled What Happens Later. She stars alongside X-Files alum David Duchovny, who plays a former flame of Ryan’s. Their characters get snowed in at an airport and reignite their love for each other.

This is a big return to acting for the actress, who hasn’t starred in a movie since 2015. Romantic comedies are familiar territory for the star, so fans couldn’t be happier to see Ryan return to her old stomping ground. Hopefully, there are even more projects to come.

You can see What Happens Later when it hits theaters on October 13. Meg Ryan fans can also check out our feature on the Addicted To Love star’s best movies and where to watch them. For more information on what else is heading to cinemas later this year, make sure to consult our 2023 movie schedule.