Meg Ryan Is Returning To Her Roots With First Rom-Com In 20 Years

Ryan will direct and star alongside David Duchovny in “What Happens Later.”
Meg Ryan will direct and star in the upcoming feature film "What Happens Later."
Meg Ryan will direct and star in the upcoming feature film "What Happens Later."
Amy Sussman via Getty Images

When it comes to romantic comedies, there’s an undisputed truth: Absolutely no one does it better than Meg Ryan.

So, in news that will surely elicit more authentic pleasure than that iconic “When Harry Met Sally” scene, the actor is revisiting the genre that catapulted her to stardom in an upcoming feature film titled “What Happens Later.”

Ryan will direct and star alongside “X-Files” alum David Duchovny in the film, which is described as an “evolved and nostalgic” take on the rom-com, per Variety.

“What if late one snowy night you came face to face with someone from your long ago? Someone who once held your secrets, because once, long ago, that person held your heart,” the film’s official logline reads.

Serving up a classic rom-com setup, the story centers on former lovers Willa (Ryan) and Bill (Duchovny) who are reunited by chance decades after their split when they find themselves stranded at an airport overnight during a snowstorm.

“Willa is still the willful, independent spirit she once was, free of any ties, while the recently separated Bill is reassessing his life and his relationships with his estranged wife and daughter,” the synopsis reads. “All each of them wants is to get home but over the course of the night they find themselves at first reluctantly drawn together yet compelled to revisit their past, along with what could have been and what might well be again. But when the versions of their shared history don’t quite add up, where do they go from there?”

Ryan shared the poster for the film on Instagram Tuesday, writing in the caption, “HERE WE GO.”

“What Happens Later” is based on the play “Shooting Star” by Steven Dietz, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ryan and Kirk Lynn. Production is set to begin in Bentonville, Arkansas, later this year, and the movie is slated to hit theaters sometime in 2023.

The film marks Ryan’s first starring role in a full-blown rom-com since 2001’s “Kate and Leopold.” The star has only appeared in a handful of films since then, as she’s largely stepped away from the spotlight in recent years.

Speaking to The New York Times Magazine in 2019 about her decision to press pause on her acting career, Ryan said, “I was burned out. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.”

At the time, Ryan also mentioned that she was developing an unnamed rom-com, remarking that she brings a certain level of expertise to the table, given her roles in classics such as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

“I’’m aware now that romantic comedies are confections, but they have construction,” she told the outlet. “There’s architecture. It’s not something I was aware of back then.”

After a handful of television appearances, Ryan eventually returned to the big screen in 2015 for her directorial debut “Ithaca,” which also starred her son with Dennis Quaid, Jack, who’s gone on to have a successful acting career of his own.

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