Meg Ryan on what romance means to her — and why her new movie isn't a rom-com The queen of rom-coms plays with the genre in What Happens Later.

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/Getty Images hide caption

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Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Meg Ryan is back on the big screen after a break from acting.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

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 Happens Later movie trailer.


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:

I feel like this is really a love story with romantic comedy elements. You know, it has banter, has some of those things, but then it takes turns I think you might not necessarily expect.

There were a lot of challenges in it that appealed to me. How do you make these two characters enter a time machine? And your budget is so small, the challenge was all about this distillation. And I was really, really up for that challenge, and so was David.

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

[It's] really perspective, you know. These two people are looking back on a life that they did not live together. And they're asking kind of cogent questions, summary questions about, "Why didn't you love me enough? What did I get wrong?"

And their lives are a result of a lot of misunderstanding — they're reacting to each other for these 20 years, and they haven't had their facts straight. She assumed that he was at fault and she blames him, and then she learns otherwise.

So that's from a mature perspective. And so it isn't necessarily about aging. It's about a perspective you gain as a mature person.

On what romance means to her:

I just don't know how to answer that question. I mean, I think love stories are pretty much mostly about obstacles. And in this case, these are two people whose natures are the obstacle. And I think what's also interesting about them is exactly what they love about each other is exactly why they broke up. And I think that's a very common thing.

On shifting between actor and director:

It really was about preparation. There are very specific stages where different things are required of you.

There's a marveling and a magic through the whole thing as you pass it off to different groups of people. And I feel like you can really feel it when you see the movie, because it then unzips you a little bit in terms of your heart.

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.

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