Divorce Disrupted Meg Ryan’s Career, but She Found Happiness in Raising Her Son and Adopted Daughter
When Meg Ryan, the renowned queen of romantic comedies, suddenly disappeared from the screens, many blamed it on the actress’ latest failed projects. But Ryan says fame and success kept her from realizing herself and living life to the fullest. So she left the film industry without any regrets, going on to raise two children in peace and do what she loves without drawing too much attention to herself.
Divorce from Dennis Quaid cost Meg Ryan her career
In the 1990s, Meg Ryan was the star of romantic comedies. Audiences adored her on-screen personas of the sweet and innocent girl next door. The actress and her husband, Dennis Quaid, seemed like the perfect couple.
The young pair fell in love with each other on the set of the film D.O.A., and tied the knot in 1991. So when rumors of an affair between Ryan and Russell Crowe surfaced in the press, followed by the news of Meg and Dennis’ divorce, the public was horrified. The charming girl turned out to be not at all as honest and perfect as everyone had imagined.
The divorce scandal dealt a heavy blow to Ryan’s reputation. She decided to step away from her usual good-girl image in her next role in the film In the Cut. In this story, Meg’s character, a schoolteacher, gets into a complicated relationship with a detective. The film itself explores the dark side of passion and shows some pretty explicit scenes. The audience refused to accept the rom-com darling in this type of role, and the film was a catastrophic failure. Meg decided to take some time off from her career.
Their son helped the ex-spouses maintain a good relationship
The divorce was also hard on the couple’s son, Jack. The boy was eight years old when he found out his parents were separating. He recalls how excruciating it was to see magazine covers in the shops discussing his mom and dad’s private lives. But despite the disagreements and scandals, Meg and Dennis did their best to communicate amicably for the sake of their son.
They gained joint custody of their child, and the actress has always said that her ex-husband plays a huge role in the boy’s life. Jack decided to become an actor, following in his parents’ footsteps. They, in turn, were never opposed to his decision, calmly accepting his passion for the film industry. Dennis even tried to help his son at the start of his career, offering the services of his own agent, but the young man refused. Jack calls himself a mommy’s boy, but happily spent time with his father’s new family as well.
Years later, Dennis Quaid admitted that his relationship with Meg was the most successful one in his life. When they first met, it was his career that was on the rise, but then Meg became the real star. Quaid seemed small and insignificant in her shadow. Perhaps that’s exactly what ruined their marriage, but his insecurities gave the actor a push to grow and taught him a lot.
Meg knew how hard it was for a child whose parents are going through a divorce, since her own parents were divorced as well, and she was very worried about Jack’s state of mind. She read all the available literature written on the subject and spent a lot of time talking to her son.
In the end, the actress’ worries, and learning to understand divorce from a child’s perspective, helped Ryan make her own film, Ithaca, based on the novel by William Saroyan. The plot revolves around a 14-year-old boy, Homer Macauley, and his widowed mother. After his father’s death, the boy is left to take care of his mother, older sister, and little brother.
She was happy to swap her acting career for the role of a mother
After the unsuccessful premiere of In the Cut, Ryan put her career on hold without any regrets. She felt professionally burned out, and it seemed to her like she was watching her life from the sidelines. Meg realized that her work didn’t bring her as much joy as before, and acting no longer felt like her true vocation.
Ryan decided to focus on her family. She spent a lot of time raising her son. Eventually she realized that she wanted more children, though this time she decided to adopt. She wasn’t trying to save a baby or become a philanthropist; she just dreamt of having a second child. Meg had considered adopting in the USA, but ended up going through the process in China.
The actress is now convinced that she and her daughter were meant for each other from the start, even though the adoption system in China follows a lottery system. Ryan was on a business trip in India when she received a photo of the child with the message that the little girl was already waiting for her. Meg was shocked; she thought it was destiny. It was only a 6-hour flight from India to China and two days later, she was already meeting her daughter. Even though everything happened relatively quickly, Ryan said: “I never laughed harder or cried more...I was so nervous about the whole thing.”
Meg couldn’t have been happier with her daughter Daisy, who was a very easy-going child. From an early age, the girl was kind, helpful, generous, and funny. She fit right into the small family which consisted of Meg and Jack. Soon, the actress could hardly remember a time when her youngest child wasn’t with them.
Despite a considerable age difference, Jack and Daisy quickly became friends. The older brother enjoyed playing with his younger sister and they would often go out together, just to go for a walk or to the amusement parks. From the start, Meg tried to shield the girl from media attention. In the early years, she hardly even shared any details about the adoption. Respecting his mother’s wishes, Jack didn’t talk much about his little sister, either.
Ryan sees no difference in how both her kids came into the family. She believes that all children come into this world as individuals in their own right and are not, inherently, extensions of their parents. Jack is different from her and from Dennis, just as Daisy is different from her mom. “It’s just as much of a lottery with your own biological children as it is with an adopted child half the world away,” says Meg.
Ryan likes raising children alone
Meg was never afraid when she was left to be a single mother. In fact, she found upsides to her situation. Jack always had a wonderful relationship with his father, Dennis, and nothing could change that. But since Ryan lived alone with the kids, she was the only adult responsible for everything in the house. That meant she didn’t have to compromise with anyone about her parenting methods or argue about how the children should be raised.
She has no regrets about leaving her acting career. Ryan never dreamed of becoming an acclaimed actress and genuinely admires her peers who can reflect their life experience in complex, multi-faceted roles. She felt she was not a fully formed individual, and the necessity to constantly remain in the limelight prevented her from living her life to the fullest.
After Ryan disappeared from the big screens, she dedicated herself completely to her family, started travelling, and later decided to take up producing and try her hand at directing. Ryan is happy to support her son’s career and loves taking care of her daughter. “Most of all, what I’m ambitious for in the 12 hours a day that I’m awake is my kids’ happiness. 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,” she says.
The actress believes it’s easier to build relationships at a mature age
After her divorce from Dennis, Meg never remarried. For a long time, she was on-and-off with musician John Mellencamp. In this relationship, Ryan felt much more free. Perhaps it was due to her more mature age, or the fact that she didn’t have so much attention paid to her personal life. But Meg still sometimes thinks that only aliens can have real relationships and doesn’t really understand how it all works.
Ryan is convinced that there is no upside to fame. After stepping away from her high-profile success, she finally found herself and learned the meaning of true happiness. “I don’t feel like I’m living anybody else’s life, or anybody else’s idea of what I should be doing, and it just feels very good,” Meg confessed. She lives a quiet life and rarely shares personal details on social media. She thinks all the people on there look unrealistically happy, and she’s a little embarrassed for them.