The one-time queen of the rom-com is back on the big screen and back in chick-flick territory with a movie that might even rival Sex and the City for girly points.
Back in the Eighties everyone wanted what Meg Ryan was having in that climactic scene in When Harry Met Sally. Now women everywhere might well want what she’s having again.
In The Women, a remake of the 1939 classic, Meg plays Mary Haines – a career woman whose husband’s affair with a stunning shopgirl (Eva Mendes) is rumbled by her girlfriends.
Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annette Bening play the society women who try to break the news to Mary on a girly trip away, only to see the situation to an unexpected turn.
Being in New York, and with a gaggle of mostly forty-something women in the cast, the comparisons with SATC are unavoidable.
At 46, Meg is even at a similar stage of her career as Sarah Jessica Parker but with an even greater past as an actress to live up to. Not that the busy mother-of-two is concerned about a rare return to the big screen.
Over the past few years she has seemingly exorcised the demons of her failed marriage and messy divorce from Dennis Quaid and her all-too public dumping by ex-boyfriend Russell Crowe.
In 2006 she adopted Daisy True from China and the last few years have mainly seen her devote herself to playing mother to the little girl and her 15-year-old son Jack.
Attempts to rid herself of her cutesy image, as well as that famous “Meg Ryan” hair-do, in movies like In the Cut and Against the Ropes, proved far from successful.
Her obvious discomfort with being interviewed, not least the infamous Michael Parkinson chat in London, fed the belief that Meg was a star struggling to cope with living up to her past.
Here the actress talks about her chick-flick comeback, how she’s come to terms with a new chapter in her life and how she now fears of being the leader of New York’s other group of sexy girls in the city.
Q: So where have you been because we haven’t seen you in many movies recently?
A: I just made a conscious decision to take a break. I just didn’t feel like working, it’s as simple as that.”
Q: Are you worried about The Women being compared to the Sex and the City movie?
A: “Not at all. We’re pleased that the success of that movie will actually help us. “I saw a sneak preview of it the other day in L.A. and it’s terrific. We were all excited and calling each other.”
Q: What message do you hope it sends out to women?
A: “We hope it opens doors – especially for the 40-plus set in Hollywood.”
Q: Do you know women like your character Mary?
A: “Oh yeah, I do, I know a lot of women like that. I think that 50 years from now, when we look back on this generation of women who were told that we could have it all and tried to, people are going to just go, ‘What the hell were they doing,’ because it’s so hard and I think that you have to figure out some way of keeping all of those capabilities and requirements in your life in balance. It’s very difficult to be a career person and have a relationship. It’s incredibly hard. I didn’t succeed at doing it all. I think it’s really difficult.”
Q: How are you coping with life in your forties?
A: “I’m very happy. Turning 40 in Hollywood was definitely something for me but it doesn’t feel like an ending to me. My interests have expanded and I haven’t felt more creative than I do right now.”
Q: A critic once said that you would struggle to have a movie career beyond 45. You’re 46 now, so what do you say to that?
A: “That’s a really old fashioned idea. I mean that’s so low for someone to have said that. They don’t say that about men so it’s sexist and horrible.”
Q: So you’ve never been tempted to walk away from movies?
A: “I may one day but it won’t be because someone told me to. I also think that the demographics of who sees movies have changed. There is now this demographic of women over 31 and older who want movies that are kind of about them. So, there are a lot of big surprises left. The baby boom generation is getting older and they’re going to want to be satisfied by something other than what I think the movie makers expect.”
Q: When you look back on your career so far is there a role that stands out?
A: “I have favourite experiences. I love dramatic pieces like Courage Under Fire. That was really fun with all those guys, guns and helicopters.”
Q: You once described yourself as a lousy celebrity. Why do you think that is?
A: “Because I’m not really comfortable with that level of attention. So I feel that qualifies me as a lousy celebrity.”
Q: You were something of an icon in the late Eighties and early Nineties – especially with that hair. How do you look back on that time, and was it hard to deal with?
A: “I’m not someone who pays attention to all that so I don’t get dragged down by it. But I was aware that that was a famous hair cut.”
Q: Are you surprised that people still talk about that fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally?
A: “I just think it’s funny. I don’t think that we had any idea that it would make people laugh for this long when we did it. It’s great that people get a kick out of it.”
The Women is in Irish cinemas from September 12th.