In This Corner: Meg Ryan

While people may think of Meg Ryan for her romantic comedies, such as "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle," she has also earned acclaim for dramatic roles in films such as "Courage Under Fire" and "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Ryan is showcasing her acting range once again, this time as a boxing manager in the new film "Against the Ropes."

The three-time Golden Globe nominee tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "I like doing romantic comedies and I love doing comedies. This movie happens to have a lot of comedy in it so I feel I'm in that world. It's great as an actor to extend yourself in all kinds of different ways. That's really what I'm up for doing."

Loosely based on the real life of Jackie Kallen, the movie has Ryan as a manager who defies the odds as she storms into the male-dominated world of boxing, becoming the most successful female manager in the history of the sport.

It was a role Ryan says she had a lot of fun portraying, particularly because it required a different dialect. She says, "It was really fun because she's somebody who, first of all, she does talk like that. And I think that she has this odd, aggressive femininity that's also masculine. That part was really fun for me to investigate, her voice and the way she looked and carried herself.

As for the wardrobe, Ryan says, "It was a lot of jewelry, a lot of heels, a lot of tight, tight.... I mean, I was embarrassed to walk on the set the first time. And then I got used to it."

And, of course, it required learning about the world of boxing. "I took some boxing lessons, just to know what jab meant," Ryan says. "I knew nothing. I never really got in the ring. But she's the kind of person who talks about when she was in the ring with one of her boxers, she was mad at him one time. She tells this story, she says, 'I'm going to put my gloves on and you put your gloves on and you're not allowed to hit me.' She threw one punch and broke a nail and that's it."

Ryan, who got to spend time with Kallen says, "She was really generous. I can't imagine having a movie made. It's crazy. She really, really trusted us."

In the movie, Kallen quits her unfulfilling executive assistant job and finds Luther Shaw (Omar Epps), a champion-in-the-making, to manage. Kallen helps turn Shaw from a jail-bound punk into a streamlined prizefighter, and Shaw helps Kallen jumpstart her managing career.

Ryan explains, "She sees this kid with a lot of raw talent and takes a bet and manages him all the way to a championship. I don't know if that's giving too much away, but it's about this relationship of respect that they develop between the two of them."

Some Facts About Meg Ryan

  • The actress was born Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra in Fairfield, Conn., on Nov. 19, 1961.
  • The Connecticut homecoming queen made her film debut at age 20 as Candice Bergen's daughter in 1981's "Rich and Famous," before turning to television.
  • Ryan played a troubled teen in 1982's "Amy and the Angel"; from 1982 to 1984, she had a role in the CBS soap "As the World Turns"; and she was in the premiere of 1984's "Charles in Charge."
  • In 1986, Ryan had her first significant film role as Anthony Edwards' wife in Tony Scott's "Top Gun."
  • In 1987, Ryan played a journalist in the Joe Dante sci-fi flick "Innerspace," opposite Dennis Quaid, whom she later married.
  • In 1988, Ryan and Quaid teamed up for the dark remake "D.O.A."; she also starred in "Promised Land."
  • In 1989, the actress gained fame with her first leading role in Rob Reiner's romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally."
  • In 1990, Ryan co-starred with Tom Hanks in "Joe Versus the Volcano."
  • In 1991, Ryan starred opposite Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison's spacey common-law wife in "The Doors."
  • In 1992, the actress worked with Alec Baldwin in "Prelude to a Kiss."
  • In 1993, Ryan again worked with Hanks as his long-distance love interest in "Sleepless in Seattle"; and she starred opposite Quaid in the moody Texas-set romance "Flesh and Bone."
  • In 1994, Ryan played an alcoholic wife and mother in "When a Man Loves a Woman."
  • In 1995, the actress starred in "Restoration," in which she plays an Irish patient in a Quaker hospice who becomes romantically involved with a doctor (Robert Downey Jr.).
  • In 1996 Ryan played an U.S. Army captain whose actions during Operation Desert Storm come under investigation in "Courage Under Fire."
  • In 1998, Ryan again played the love interest of Tom Hanks, this time in "You've Got Mail"; she played a surgeon romanced by a heavenly creature in "City of Angels"; the actress played a drug-abusing go-go dancer involved with a second-rate actor in "Hurlyburly."
  • In 2000, Ryan starred in "Hanging Up" and the thriller "Proof of Life" with Russell Crowe.
  • In 2001, Ryan starred in the light romantic comedy "Kate and Leopold" with Hugh Jackman.
  • In 2003, the actress had a role in "In the Cut," a role originally slated for Nicole Kidman, who produced the film.