Meg Ryan Opens Up About Being Labelled ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ ‘Quitting’ Acting In Goop Chat With Gwyneth Paltrow

After working together 25 years ago, actresses Meg Ryan and Gwyneth Paltrow reunited on Saturday for an onstage chat during a Goop Health event in Los Angeles.

During the Q&A, Ryan — who co-starred with Paltrow in the 1993 film “Flesh and Bone” — realized it had been more than 20 years since they’d seen each other.

“Gwyneth and I did a movie together when Jack my son was 3 months,” said Ryan, as reported by E! News. “What was wrong with me going to work when he was 3 months old?”

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Paltrow, 45, asked Ryan, 56, what it was like to be labelled “America’s Sweetheart” thanks to a string of rom-com hits including “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle”.

“You’re either intelligent or sexual or maternal, and I really feel like we’re at a time where those borders are coming down, and it’s coming with a lot of cultural upheaval in a way. In a certain respect, everyone in the culture is very comfortable with you in one archetype. What was that like for you?” Paltrow asked.

“For the most part, I had a lot of fun. I never wanted to be an actress. The whole idea of being a famous person… I felt like a witness to, I didn’t feel exactly in it, and I think that was a really good thing. I felt like a student of it in a way, or that I was watching it in an anthropological way,” Ryan replied.

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“When you’re a famous person, there’s a certain degree of blankness that needs to happen so that people can project on you,” she added. “Despite what you may think, people don’t really want to know all that much about you. They want to imagine the best or the worst. So when you’re caught in that, it really is interesting because you get reactions that have almost nothing to do with you and some that have everything to do with you, and you have to be this jiu-jitsu master to figure out what mirror you should actually be looking in.”

Ryan continued: “Life is subtle, people are complex, and the world is obviously complex, and tabloid journalism and headlines, those are not. Tweets, those are not. When you get labeled anything like ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ I didn’t even know what that meant. [“Sleepless”/”Harry Met Sally” screenwriter] Nora Ephron’s parents wrote scripts in old Hollywood and there was such a thing as ‘America’s Sweetheart’ in the ’40s and she decided to say that about me one day and I remember thinking, ‘Is that good?'”

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Responding to Paltrow’s remark that “America’s Sweetheart” is a “confining” title, Ryan said: “It doesn’t necessarily imply that you’re smart or sexual or complicated or anything, it’s a label. And what can a label do but guess at you?”

During their chat, Ryan also responded to Paltrow’s question about “quitting” acting, revealing she had become “very reactive instead of proactive” when it came to her Hollywood career.

“I didn’t really aim to be an actor, I was a journalism major at school, and a curious person, and I wanted to go back out into the world and figure out who I was — am — in relationship to other things and other people and other environments,” she explained.

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Another thing the conversation revealed is that Ryan is one of the few female stars to never have experienced a #MeToo moment.”I don’t have a big bad story, I’m lucky,” she said. “I think success, which happened fairly early for me, is a real iron bubble. And I was really lucky.”

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