Meg Ryan was still married to Dennis Quaid when she met her Proof of Life costar Russell Crowe in 2000.
The two had an immediate connection, and news of their affair broke ahead of the film’s release. This had a catastrophic impact on Meg’s career and personal life.
She was blamed for ruining her marriage and was shunned at the box office; the film flopped, and Meg and Dennis got a divorce.
However, it turns out that the reality of Meg’s marriage to Dennis was very different from the story that many believed at the time.
Meg and Dennis announced their separation while Proof of Life was being filmed. Taylor Hackford, the movie’s director, reportedly blamed the relationship between Meg and Russell for the film’s box office failure.
Meg told The Guardian in 2003 that she gained something valuable from the experience: knowledge of self.
She said, “This thing happened [her affair with Crowe] and I was all over the tabloids and I walked through the lobby and the place stopped. People stopped talking and stared at me. And then I got to the elevator and instead of falling apart and going, ‘Ooh,’ I just started laughing. This thing that people are so afraid of all the time — public censure or disapproval — has no power if you know yourself.”
To make matters worse, in the eyes of the public, Meg and Russell ended their own relationship before the year was over.
Meg later told InStyle that she felt that Russell endured a lot because they were together, explaining, “I think he took a big hit. 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.”
Meg goes on to accuse ex-husband Dennis Quaid of cheating on her throughout their entire relationship, explaining that while some might choose to believe that she was the one who caused the issues between them, that wasn’t the case.
As she put it, “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.”
Despite the personal and professional upheaval that Meg experienced at the time, she doesn’t regret what happened.
She said, “I’m not a victim. 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.”
In the years that have followed their split, Dennis Quaid has admitted he played a big role in the end of their marriage. As he told The Independent in 2019, Meg’s sudden success was difficult for him to cope with.
He explained, “When we started, I was very much on top. She was just starting out. Then she had When Harry Met Sally and I took time out and the roles were suddenly reversed in terms of where we were at, in our careers. I’m too big of a person to really let that bother me and it wasn’t her fault. I was glad for her, but at the same time it really made it hit home where I was at myself, the direction things were headed.”
Ultimately, there don’t seem to be a lot of hard feelings between Meg and Dennis. Dennis went on to add, “I’m very fond of her, and we have a lot of fun. We spent 13 good years together. We had a kid together, and we shared so much: she made my life.”