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Breaking away from the romantic cutie tag, Meg Ryan tackles her toughest role to date in When A

Man Loves A Woman. Anwar Brett listens as the girl-next-door grows


After the success of When Harry Met Sally. . . and Sleepless In Seattle. Meg Ryan was cast by the media as the perennial girl-next-door. a romantic heroine for the 90s. But this view contrasts sharply with her own. for Ryan balks at any sort of typecasting and is searching out ever more challenging and unexpected roles. Hence her latest film. When A Man Loves A Woman. in which she plays a wife and mother

nursing a chronic alcohol problem. 3 “2.x : s“? S j“ t; “I ~ M I

‘I really like talking about this movie.‘ she explains l i i. -‘ " -' = . With typical ChthSIGSm. because there's SO mUCh 5 When A Man loves A Woman: Meg Ryan plays a complex and at times unsympathetic character stuff to talk about. While we were making it. we all : had a very profound experience people were having l The thing is‘. l was really interested in doing When Not that she is claiming to be an alcoholic herself, intense conversations, everyone was discussing their A Man Loves A Woman because it seemed to me that Ofcourse. but Ryan could identify with other aspects marriages. their parentg‘ their divorces. their 3 it was all about altering the basic terms of this of Alice‘s character and she felt that these werejust [cmarfiageg_ This movie deals with so many things j relationship. It's what happens when two people as important as a key to understanding the situation that people are concerned about. and we'd grown so change very dramatically. how they still manage to . she finds herself in. close that, by the end of it, we were a” very sad to be together, how they weather the highs and lows in leave each other} 5 their lives. And I like the fact that Alice was this

woman who had all these things to deal with that I ‘I know that | have more experience in ‘I did The Barbara Walters Show and she ' “mm “W ‘0- 5"“ Wilt—11"“; ‘0“ “balls 1“ 0"” my life now than when I started acting,

said to me that people think of me as this 2 {hmg w‘” Wh‘" W‘” ‘1‘ “we ‘1‘ f‘“ “S and I have more opinions about what It and that the girl next door - and I Her enthusiasm to, the subject is Sit“ apparent as is I read and what It is I act - so that wondered “the girl next door to what?”.’ _ she talks. and with her stock in Hollywood rising when I play a wife and mother In When ' ever higher. it might seem that she would be the first A Man loves A woman it helps that pm For Alice Green. a woman who seemingly has name on many directors‘ lips when casting the best " d ,- - 9 everything she could wish for a loving husband ' scripts. Yet she insists that this is not the case. and a w e an mother In real me- (played by Andy Garcia), two adorable daughters. a i totally in keeping with the ‘nice' image that she wonderful home the descent into drunkenness and : pleads ignorance of - reveals an astonishing lack of

recn'mination is unexpected and surprising. For the ego about her work. ‘It's something a lot ofwomen face.‘ she smiles. audience. part of that surprise must come from the ‘l have the power to choose a little more than I did.’ ‘It‘s a patriarchal thing. There's a much lower fact that it is Ryan we see falling through the shower 3 she explains with candour. ‘but it‘s a misconception = expectation for women that you’re always trying to in a drunken stupor or slapping her little girl while that I get offered a lot of scripts before anybody else. ' break free from. Alice has questions of what to do in suffering a monster hangover. But, insisting that she I sort of get things fifth, they always go to this person her life, how to balance everything. and there‘s no has little idea what her image is. Ryan sees no a or that person before me. Although it might seem like i one there to answer them. We‘re brought up to anomaly in her playing this complex and at times I I get everything. I don't, believe me. I still feel like believe that we should always offer help. but in this unsympathetic character. I'm in the apprenticeship zone of my career and I particular case, it turns out that it is the help which is ‘A long time ago I decided I shouldn’t read i find myselfwanting to try lots of other things. But I the most destructive thing. It’s almost as if Andy's anything that was written about me,’ she continues. l know that I have more experience in my life now character needs Alice to be less so that he can be ‘so I don’t. When I'm asked what I think of what than when I started acting. and I have more opinions more, and in doing this he inadvertently perpetuates a other people think of me. I can honestly say that l about what it is I read and what it is I act so that self-destructive pattern of behaviour in her. The really don‘t know. That takes a lot of the pressure off, i when I play a wife and mother in When A Man Loves alcoholism is her problem. of course, but it affects because I don’t have to live up to anything. I did The A Woman, it helps that I'm a wife and mother in real i everyone around her. Ijust felt that we should try to Barbara Walters Show and she said to me that people i life. When I was making When Harry Met Sally . . . , i communicate Andy's character's problem in a clear think of me as this and that the girl next door and i l was much younger than the character of Sally. She ; way. because in America there is this belief that is I wondered “the girl next door to what?". It's weird. wanted a baby really badly and I didn't know what almost cast in stone that helping someone and Sometimes you can‘t help but hear. although you try any of that was about. I had to find some books to compensating for their weakness is always the right not to listen. I certainly don’t feel under pressure by i read about people like her. Now I‘m in a position ; thing to do.‘ it. And maybe I‘m not adorable. have you thought of where I have more experience of life and I like the When A Man Loves A Woman opens in Scotland on

that? fact that I can bn'n that to m roles.‘ ' Frida '2 Se Member. i . g y i i I _

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64 The List 26 August—8 September 1994