When Meg Ryan and now ex-husband Dennis Quaid separated in 2000 amid her high-profile affair with Russell Crowe, the beloved actress went from America’s Sweetheart to self-described “scarlet woman.”
But in a new interview in the October issue of In Style, Ryan says it wasn’t her fault.
“It was a great story,” she told the mag. “But what wasn’t in the story was the reality of my marriage for nine years. Dennis was not faithful to me for a long time, and that was very painful. I found out more about that once I was divorced.”
The “You’ve Got Mail” star said that Crowe took too much blame.
“I think he took a big hit,” she said. “But Russell didn’t break up the marriage. He was definitely there at the end, but it wasn’t his fault. I was a mess. I hurt him, too, at the end. I couldn’t be in another long relationship, it wasn’t the time for that. So I got out.”
Still, Ryan isn’t looking for sympathy.
“I am not a victim,” she said. “My time as a scarlet woman was really interesting. As painful as it was, it was also incredibly liberating. I didn’t have to care about what people thought.”
While roles in romantic comedies, such as “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless In Seattle,” made her what “Seattle” director Nora Ephron called America’s Sweetheart, that title never made sense to the unconventional actress.
“It was always really so curious to me,” she said. “It’s an old-fashioned idea, so anachronistic. I understood it was a compliment about being lovable, and it felt nice, you know? But it also felt, after a time, like ideas were being projected onto me that had nothing to do with me. The girl next door to what?”
She’s come back onto the Hollywood radar with her starring role in ensemble comedy “The Women,” but her time off has been a necessary break for the star.
“I’ve been famous for a long time, and these last years there’s been a great lull. So it has been me throwing a backpack on, traveling a lot — it’s been fantastic,” she added.
And despite her stormy romances, she hasn’t done it alone. In 2006, she adopted a baby girl from China, Daisy. Daisy is her second child, following son Jack Henry, 16, with Quaid.
“I don’t feel like I adopted a child. I feel like I just got this unbelievable companion,” said Ryan. “Daisy is brilliant. This kid says things every day that make you just stop and stare at her.”