Meg Ryan 

We'll all have what she's having.

click to enlarge meg_ryan.jpg


Ask people about their favorite movies and soon enough, they'll start naming films starring Meg Ryan: City of Angels, Courage Under Fire, Joe Versus the Volcano, Prelude to a Kiss, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, When a Man Loves a Woman, You've Got Mail--the list goes on. She's an actress, producer, director and the special guest of the 2019 Sun Valley Film Festival, where she'll receive the Vision Award, an accolade "presented to an icon whose contributions to the art of cinema have changed the industry for the better."

Just prior to her trip to Idaho, Ryan spoke to Boise Weekly about movies (classic and contemporary), how we access films (in cinemas and on mobile devices), and that legendary scene in When Harry Met Sally.

What are some of the first movies that you remember seeing as a young girl?

Wow. The first movie I recall seeing in a movie theater was The Poseidon Adventure.

Well, that was certainly a blockbuster.

That was probably the first. After that, it was probably Jaws. But the movies I really liked watching on TV during the late afternoon were all those Carole Lombard movies. Katharine Hepburn. Clark Gable. Cary Grant.

Jimmy Stewart. Jean Arthur.

Wow. The greats.

Do you see many contemporary films?


Which film resonated with you over the past year?

I loved ROMA. I felt [Director] Alfonso [Cuaron] made such a beautiful gesture about seeing things from a different point of view. It included many of his own memories, but the act of seeing anything from an alternate point of view, other than your own, is an act of real empathy. There were a lot of terrific movies this past year, but that one really touched me.

Speaking of ROMA, do you have an opinion on the Netflix debate over whether we should see new films in a cinema or on our smartphones?

Well, I certainly don't think we're going backwards. I absolutely love seeing films on the big screen, but for quite some time, our entertainment has adapted to different delivery systems and I think the same thing is happening now. It won't be long before somebody makes a movie on their smartphone that wins the Academy Award. It's all an opportunity to explore the many ways you can deliver fun, moving stories. I really can't put down watching a movie on a smaller screen versus a bigger screen because I've watched movies on smaller screens. I probably wouldn't have seen the movie otherwise.

To be sure, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are providing unprecedented access to some pretty fabulous films, particularly to corners of the world that otherwise might not have had the opportunity.

Whether in a theater or online, this is an art form that's communal. Sometimes it's nearly a billion people in China watching films online. And sometimes it's a hundred people in a community movie theater. That's why I really like the fact that I'm coming to Sun Valley to be part of a community celebration of the art form.

Can I assume that that you're anticipating the opportunity to interact with fans in Sun Valley?

The whole magic of this craft is that you can't do it alone. We are a community of filmmakers, making a film for other communities: audiences. It's a perfect bookend. I think film festivals like your Sun Valley [festival] are so important. No critics. It's not Los Angeles or New York, and it's all about people who really love movies.

Next month, Turner Classic Movies will hold its own film festival in Hollywood and I see that they'll celebrate—and I can't believe I'm saying this—the 30th anniversary of When Harry Met Sally. You're looking forward to that reunion, yes?

I am. Billy [Crystal] and [Director] Rob [Reiner] will be there too. It's always fun to see them.

Speaking of When Harry Met Sally, urban legend has it that the famous faux orgasm scene in Katz's Delicatessen was the result of something that emerged in rehearsal.

Mm-hmm. We had a really terrific rehearsal process on that movie. We would improvise a lot and bat around a lot of things with [screenwriter] Nora [Ephron], Rob and Billy. What came out of all of that, before we started filming, was that Sally was such a behaviorally funny person. So, it was logical to me that Sally wouldn't talk about an orgasm but she'd probably act it out.

I think the thing that separated many of your romantic comedies from the rest was authenticity.

By the time When Harry Met Sally came out, it had been a few years since we had a seen a romantic comedy that really captured the imagination of people like that.

I would be remiss if I didn't note that, in a recent interview with The New York Times, you indicted that you have a new film in the works.

We don't have a green light yet, but we're working on it. Our fingers are crossed.

What kind of film?

A romantic comedy.

Pardon me while I go reserve my tickets now.


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