With her long-awaited romantic comedy return now imminent, Meg Ryan is opening up about what prompted her eight-year break from Hollywood.
Speaking to People in an interview published Wednesday, the “Sleepless in Seattle” actor said she simply wanted to focus on other things, including motherhood.
“I took a giant break because I felt like there’s just so many other parts of my experience as a human being I wanted to develop,” Ryan said, noting that she was able to spend more time with son Jack Quaid, whom she shares with ex-husband Dennis Quaid, and daughter Daisy Ryan.
She added, “It’s nice to think of it as a job and not a lifestyle. And that is a great way of navigating it for me.”
According to People, Ryan received clearance from Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to speak about her new movie, “What Happens Later,” during the Hollywood actors strike. Loosely based on Steven Dietz’s 2010 play “Shooting Star,” the rom-com follows Willa (played by Ryan) and Bill (David Duchovny), a former couple who unexpectedly reunite after being stranded at an airport during a blizzard.
Ryan also co-wrote and directed “What Happens Later,” which is her first film since 2015’s “Ithaca.” It also marks her first romantic comedy since 2001’s “Kate & Leopold.”
Watch the trailer for “What Happens Later” below.
In a conversation with Carol Burnett published by Interview Magazine in August, Ryan said she first received an early version of the “What Happens Later” script from Dietz shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unexpected downtime that soon followed, she explained, “got me thinking about what was happening in the world, how we were all kind of put under a glass.”
“The story started to revolve around this question of how we begin to forgive ourselves and one another,” she said. “It’s a rom-com, so a lot of times you have to ask those deeper questions in secret and hope that people can feel them underneath everything.”
In the mid- to late-1990s, Ryan rivaled Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts as one of the movie industry’s most bankable female actors, thanks to well-received turns in “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
Ryan has cited the influence of Nora Ephron ― the late screenwriter behind “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” ― on “What Happens Later,” which hits theaters Nov. 3.
“Nora Ephron used to say about rom-coms that they were really a secretly incredible delivery system to comment on the times,” she told Entertainment Weekly in August, “and we do that in this movie.”