Yes. You read the title right. I didn't make a mistake, I meant it to read that way.
A bit of background first. I grew into my skin watching Meg Ryan's films. Notice I didn't say "grew up" because Ms. Ryan and I are from the same generation -- and yes, we look damn great! Thank you. But as I was saying, I discovered the America I always knew existed, I found love, I dumped love and moved on, I cried a lot in between, and all to the rhythm of Meg Ryan's movies. So when the Locarno Festival asked me to moderate a public Forum talk with the wondrous actress I said YES! And pinched myself a few times to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
Throughout my time working as a film and fashion journalists, I'll admit that a few of my idols have fallen. Filmmakers who turn out to have a limited life vision and no sense of humor, actors who will spend the entire interview playing with their phones, only looking up when it's their turn to speak, and producers who think they're fabulous just because their name is attached to a cool project -- which of course it is, but they're among lets see, like fifteen other producers.
Meg Ryan, lets make it clear right here right now, did not make it into the fallen idols pile. She remains a mega star, a beautiful inside-and-out person with sparkling light blue eyes and a skin that glows, crowned by hair that still makes me yearn to be a blonde. But a Meg Ryan blonde... And that's simply not possible. In fact, she confirmed that she is one, extraordinary, kind, cool and funny woman, but especially, unique -- inimitable. I may have tried years ago to walk into my hairdresser's with a photo of Ryan to show the color blond I wanted, but he shot me down with a simple, "it's Meg Ryan, Nina, she's naturally a blonde and that's her cool, cool hair." From then on, I've remained a brunette.
In person, Ryan is initially reserved and about business. On our first encounter, at the Leopard Club Award ceremony and dinner in her honor, she asked how the talk would be held, what kind of setup as far as chairs and a table and how much time we'd have. "One hour," I said, to which Ryan replied, "great! That gives us the chance to have a real conversation." On the morning of the public talk, which must have been in front of what seemed like a thousand people! Ryan talked to us "backstage" (in the grass surrounding the Spazio Cinema), before facing the crowd and hoards of photographers. She told us about her dress, "it's really old, it's my favorite since I've had it shortened" and then pointed to my shoes -- "Nice shoes, Nina!" When I asked her if she would like to sign autographs after the talk she said, "no autographs." But then, under her breath, just as our talk ended and people approached the podium with longing in their eyes and holding pens and paper, Ryan turned to me and said, "alright, I'll sign just a few." Kindly.
While talking, she uses the word "miracle" a lot. It was a miracle to get cast in 'When Harry Met Sally' and every movie she's made is a miracle. She's a woman's woman but she's also not a male-bashing woman, which is rare in Hollywood these days. She says candidly that she doesn't have a MeToo moment and talks gently about all the men she's ever starred with, in the movies as well as in life.
In fact, she says about ex-husband Dennis Quaid, "we're still good friends" and when a journalist asked her if she's getting remarried, she said "to Dennis? No." To someone else? "NOOOOO!" There doesn't seem to be a condescending, or spiteful spirit anywhere near Meg Ryan. It's so refreshing in our times, when through social media we've learned only how to be incensed about the nonsense. We crave to show our limited strength through our anger. Ryan is truly strong, and it's clear she doesn't need to prove it.
As our day together drew to a close -- I ended up following Ryan to her press junket and moderated for the two groups of international journalists that had come to ask her questions -- Ryan turned to me and said "Thank you, you've made this so easy," which of course was the most perfectly touching thing she could say to this woman who craved to make her feel safe and comfortable -- as comfortable as she made me feel in front of that huge audience, interviewing my favorite movie star of all times.