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After years out of the spotlight, Meg Ryan's ready to claim a spot behind, and in front of, the camera

After years out of the spotlight, Meg Ryan's ready to claim a spot behind, and in front of, the camera

Meg Ryan is an overwhelmingly familiar woman. Her warm, smiling face, which looks up from a table at the restaurant in the Hotel Bel-Air where she is scribbling on a pile of papers, offers the sense that you really know her. And in many ways, you do.

Ryan, visiting Los Angeles for a few days before jetting back to New York, is a woman we grew up watching, one who gave us hope that there was a kind, perfect man (usually resembling Tom Hanks) out there for all of us. That life, even with its turbulent ups and downs, was colorful and quirky — and always ended with a passionate kiss in front of the glowing New York skyline.

The actress is one of the most essential...

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