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Meg Ryan on what romance means to her — and why her new movie isn't really a rom-com

Meg Ryan is back on the big screen after a break from acting.
Amy Sussman
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Getty Images
Meg Ryan is back on the big screen after a break from acting.

The queen of rom-coms plays with the genre in her new film, What Happens Later.

Who is she? Meg Ryan is an actor, writer and director, most popularly known as the star of Nora Ephron's hit romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.

What is she up to? Ryan's back on the big screen after an eight-year hiatus, and this time she's directing the characters as well as portraying one of them.

  • What Happens Later follows two ex-lovers (Meg Ryan and David Duchovny) who are forced to reconnect in an airport as they wait out delays from a winter storm.

What's she saying? Ryan spoke with All Things Considered host Juana Summers on the inspiration for this modern love story, and balancing being on both sides of the camera.

On deciding to return to a romance film:


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On portraying parts of aging and romance that often get overlooked on screen:

On what romance means to her:

On shifting between actor and director:

What now?

  • The film is dedicated to Nora Ephron, who died in 2012.
  • "She had pure delight on a movie set, and now I understand that," Ryan said. "I also understand she was tough, and she had a way of being in the world of Hollywood — very intellectual and stern — sometimes to get what she wanted. I also understand that a lot of different hats are required to direct a movie and she switched between those very easily."
  • What Happens Later is out in theaters now.


Learn more:

The interview with Meg Ryan was conducted by Juana Summers, produced by Marc Rivers and edited by Sarah Handel. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.