MEG RYAN: AMERICA'S SWEETHEART BOUNCES BACKMeg Ryan has not had the easiest of years, with her much publicized divorce from Dennis Quaid and her brief fling with Russell Crowe. Plus her 40th birthday just hit, not that the actress looks it. But Meg has bounced back with a charming new romantic comedy/fantasy, Kate & Leopold, opposite Aussie hunk Hugh Jackman, in which she plays a modern career woman who falls for a 19th century British Duke.
In this candid conversation with Paul Fischer, Ryan confesses that her ideal romantic evening is watching a boxing match, amongst other things of course.
Meg Ryan looks nothing like her forty years. Still pretty, her blonde hair looking trim and tidy, the actress doesn't see her recent fortieth birthday as much of a big deal. "What am I gonna do, not turn 40?" she asks laughingly. "I just don't feel like turning 40 is seminal or major in any way; I feel okay."
Meg appears the eternal optimist that on-screen sunny disposition translates off the screen. Even the tabloid press's coverage of her break up with Dennis Quaid results in a philosophical response from the actress why at one stage would seem untouchable by those quarters of the press. "I had so many mixed feelings about it. I felt it was very painful, because I had never really read a lot of that stuff before, but my lawyers said a lot of it was really actionable, so I would have to read it and decide whether or not, to sue or go on with yourself. So I think, just generally, it was a really Catch 22 situation in that neither Dennis nor I are really ever going to talk about the divorce to the press and that's just par for the course,"
No wonder her view of the perfect romantic evening has changed considerably since the break up of her marriage, she laughingly confesses.
"The ultimate date would be that I'd want to be with someone fantastic, fun and great and then go to the Lennox Lewis/Tyson fight," the fight being the most important part of the date.
Meg seems to have discovered boxing, even more so since preparing a new film on the subject. "It is a very primitive sport, and I really like that; I like that it's a gutter sport. I like the whole world around it and now that I've tried to box a little bit, I know how hard it is, and I can't believe that these guys are as great as they are. I like some of the personalities in that world," she says.
It's all a bit different from that other world she faultlessly inhabits; the world of romantic comedy, one that she has defined as her own for over a decade. The latest is Kate & Leopold in which she plays a cynical modern New Yorker, obsessed by a need to survive in a 'man's world' who finds herself falling for a chivalrous British gent [Hugh Jackman] who happens to be from the 19th century.
Ryan may have the market cornered on the genre, but she tries to find the good ones, she hastens to add. "I feel like this is kind of a swanky movie, with a Henry Mancini kind of vibe to it." There may be familiar Ryan traits to Kate, but the actress sees her "as somebody who changes through the course of the movie. She has to go from head logic to heart logic."
Ryan also gets to work with Australian star-on-the-rise Hugh Jackman, about whom Meg has nothing but praise. "He's almost too good to be true, just fantastic and better than you would even think. I mean, he would talk about what he did this weekend and he would have taken a philosophy seminar all weekend. What is that? When you're in a movie everybody lays in bed and hopes to wake up at the right times so they can rearrange their clock and get to work early, but he's into philosophy seminars and he's in love with a fantastic woman. They have a beautiful baby and he's just a terrific guy. You sense that all this great stuff is going on with him and you're not going to like him because he's so damn great but you do, because he's wild, it's great."
The actress says it wasn't difficult to relate to Kate's more driven qualities. "I think that she has taken all of the energy in her life and put it into this career that she's got, much to the detriment of the rest of her life. I can also relate to the fact that this is a woman who is alive right now and is a multi-tasker. As a mother and career person, I have all these things going on and I think that it's really hard balancing them. I can see that sometimes I am out of balance, and Kate's way out of balance so the universe really has to come in and fuse some illogical magic into her life to kind of wake her up out of it." For Ryan, her life's priorities revolve around her son. "He is the most important thing in the world to me and takes a lot of my time and my thinking."
Meg says that making Kate & Leopold came about at the right time, as she was shooting the film just as her marriage was falling apart. "I was really grateful because I was surrounded by really lovely people at a very hard time in my life, too. So, I was very grateful to have this job."