Dennis Quaid reflects on how Meg Ryan’s success made him feel ‘small’

Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan

Some days, I really do feel very old, because I remember all of this gossip from the ‘90s in great detail. I feel like that dates me, but whatever. Back then, we got our gossip from People Magazine, and we had to wait for the magazine to arrive on Saturday, basically, to find out what was happening in Hollywood. Back in those days – the 1990s – Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan were one of the biggest couples in Hollywood. She was “America’s Sweetheart,” the blonde rom-com queen adored by all. He was the sexy dramatic actor who had an impressive filmography under his belt. Then, in 2000-01, everything fell apart. Meg Ryan seemingly left her husband for her then-costar Russell Crowe. Quaid was said to be devastated. Russell and Meg didn’t last – everyone knew they wouldn’t last – but Meg got a lot of sh-t for seemingly being the one who “broke up” her fairytale marriage. In many ways, her career never recovered from that.

Of course, as the years went on, both Quaid and Ryan moved on in various ways. They co-parent their son (who is an adult now), and we’ve learned more about how Dennis and Meg’s marriage was probably already on its last leg before Russell Crowe even came around. If anything, Meg just used Russell as an excuse/escape route to get the hell out of her marriage. Anyway, Dennis Quaid has a new interview with Megyn Kelly Today, where he talks about his history of cocaine abuse, and how Meg Ryan’s success made him feel “small” at the time:

He started using cocaine early in his career: The actor, 64, said he began using the drug when he first arrived in Hollywood, noting that it was everywhere he went and even in the budget of some films. “I grew up in the 60s, 70s, and there was a completely different attitude about it back then. Even in some movie budgets. I kept roaring on. I was basically doing cocaine pretty much on a daily basis during the 80s. I spent many, many a night screaming at god to please take this away from me, I’ll never do it again because I’ve only got an hour before I have to be at work. Then about 4 o’clock in the afternoon I would be “oh that’s not so bad’. I had a white light experience where I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me.’

When his marriage to Meg fell apart: “When we met, you know, I was the big deal and then my career [came to a halt]. And I have to admit it, I actually did feel like I disappeared. I didn’t think I was that small… but I was.”

When Meg became famous: The success of “Sleepless in Seattle” catapulted Ryan to a whole new level of celebrity, and Quaid recalls how things changed, seemingly overnight, remembering walking in public together while fans screamed, “Meg! Meg!” while ignoring him entirely. However, he admits “it really was a growth opportunity. I learned from that.” In fact, despite their rancorous split, the thrice-wed Quaid now looks back on his marriage to Ryan as “my most successful relationship in my life.”

[From The Daily Mail & ET Canada]

The thing is, I remember Quaid’s career in the ‘90s and it really wasn’t *that* bad. He was already transitioning into what he is now: a solid character actor and a sometime leading man. He was working steadily and sometimes on great films. He was a deft comedic actor and an underrated dramatic actor. But sure, I can also see how Meg’s “super-stardom” was a difficult adjustment. It does feel like… Male Ego So Fragile though, right? Quaid couldn’t handle it because… his wife was an in-demand and beloved rom-com actress. And the thing was, I remember how much Meg f–king hated that too. She wanted desperately to prove that she could do movies other than romantic comedies. And all of her dramatic work was just met with *crickets*.

Meg Ryan with her husband Dennis Quaid When: 11 Nov 2011 Credit: WENN/Bosl

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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69 Responses to “Dennis Quaid reflects on how Meg Ryan’s success made him feel ‘small’”

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  1. Alix says:

    Boo-fuckin’-hoo, dude.

    • Jane says:

      THIS!^

    • Hannah Maguire says:

      This interview doesnt justify the boo hoo response. He was clearly expressing how he felt at a time and reflecting on that now in a positive way. He wasnt whining about it. Sharing an experience.

    • Mina says:

      Is that your take? I see it as a guy who’s reflected a lot about how he handled things wrong, he’s hardly playing the victim here, quite the opposite, really.

  2. Kate says:

    So Dennis/Meg/Russell were the orginal Uncool Bermuda Triangle? Funny how Russell was not vilified for a decade even tough he was the other man. I wonder why?

    • babypeanut says:

      It was known at the time that Meg had stuck with Dennis through his cocaine dramas, so I don’t remember there being a lot of compassion for Dennis.

      • I don’t remember it as so much compassion for Dennis though, what I remember was the need for Meg to be shamed, and blamed. Basically everything was put on Meg, and no one said a thing about Russel, or that her marriage to Dennis was sh!t already. Her career really suffered.

    • Jamie Cheng says:

      I recall something about about dennis cheated on her many times during their marriage before she left for Russell crowe

      • PeggingOut says:

        Exactly. I lived in Texas near a resort where he was filming a movie in the 90s during his marriage. In addition to his drug habit….. His sexual escapades , flagrant flirtations, etc. were open knowledge.

        He pretty much put Meg through the ringer and so her ultimate break with him was no surprise, and really no one should blame her,

        As far as her dramatic career…..well I think she has more chops than we gave her credit for ….remember When A Man Loves A Woman?

        We just didn’t really want to see her in those roles…..she was too deeply rooted in our brains in rom-com

      • holly hobby says:

        The lady started out in soaps so she has range! It’s just that she became so well loved in the rom coms that the audience refused to see her in another light. Plus, fooling around with her face doesn’t help either.

        Despite what was going on with their marriage, they were a very popular couple for many years. I really like those old photos. She had her real face there.

    • Lilly says:

      White man armor. It’s kind of like the Justin Theroux story and people commenting on “why should he talk about the divorce,” because it was no drama and awhile ago. A woman is asked about that stuff forever, then eventually it becomes this type of reflective piece. So, now that Dennis’ ego can handle it and then it’s like he’s eligible for some kudos for admitting feelings. Little vilification and softball questions from other White guy interviewers.

  3. Prim says:

    If he can talk about it with that level of clarity, it’s likely that he doesn’t feel that way anymore and isn’t acting that way anymore. No one likes to fess up to jealousy and insecurity and it takes someone who’s done a lot of self-reflecting and hard work to be able to do it.

    • SM says:

      I agree @Prim. I am not sure why the cold/negative comments about him now. He seems to reflect with clarity on what happened in the past. More men should do that especialy those who came up in the 70s. Remember that Harvey Weinstein still thinks that coming up in the seventies justifies his behaviour. And Dennis here is not responsible for how his ex wife’s career went on.

      • LadyT says:

        I do appreciate the honesty and self-reflection. Unfortunately his third marriage recently ended, supposedly for similar reasons. (Ego and cheating, not drugs) I’d value the words more if they came with more active changes.

      • magnoliarose says:

        What Lady T said.

      • Ginny says:

        Oh please! Dennis has not changed at all! He is still cheating, it killed his third marriage and he is now dating a brainless 30 year old girl who cares mostly about his credit card.

        When Meg spoke up about his cheating ways in the most respectful manner in 2008 he slammed her saying she should keep quiet and stop talking about the marriage…….and yet while she has remained mostly silent he keeps bringing it up…..never telling the truth though. Sorry but he is a giant sexist with a giant ego and unable to deal with a smart woman his own age.

        I agree with what others said: stop praisig white men for stupid half true confessions!

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree. He definitely was messy, but can admit it now, and seems to be in a better place, which is a good thing – for him and his kids.

      I always enjoyed Meg in her movies, it’s a shame she was sort of shunned after the Russell Crowe thing, when clearly she was looking for an out to a bad marriage.

  4. Eva says:

    I applaud him for his honesty. A lot of men feel this way about succesful women but don’t have the self-awareness/balls to admit it.

    • Honey says:

      Agree.

    • Lydia says:

      Such men are useless, always trying to undermine women while we’re supposed to root for and support them.

      • Lola says:

        Agreed! Stop prasing men like him! Just because he was honest doesnt mean his behavior was acceptable.

      • MissGinger says:

        Word. I’m tired of men being applauded for their ‘honesty’ in admitting that they thought women were lesser, and are made to feel small by our successes.

    • tracking says:

      Sure, that’s why he’s now dating a successful woman his own age. Oh, wait…

  5. Josie says:

    I think he’s saying “I didn’t think I was that small [to be jealous of my wife’s success] but I was.” Bravo for the honesty, it’s just too bad he couldn’t have been better back then.

    • Jamie Cheng says:

      issue is small men deals with a more successful wife by cheating. It happens a lot. They cheat to prove their masculinity. I remember meg saying how he cheated on her constantly during their marriage before she left him.

  6. Des says:

    Didn’t he also cheat on her a lot back then?

    • whatWHAT? says:

      yes. so the story goes…

      Quaid was a serial cheater. Ryan may or may not have been looking for a way out…she may have just been tired of being cheated on all the time…but she did hook up with Crowe on set and that was enough for Quaid to dump her. unfortunately, the story ALSO goes that Crowe had made a bet with the crew that he could seduce Ryan while filming together. she supposedly thought she was starting a new relationship but he dumped her after the shoot was over and, as noted, her career never really recovered after that…she was no longer “America’s sweetheart”, she was a “cheating whore”.

      as usual, the men come out smelling like roses and the woman’s career suffered. though, it’s not like people are really enamored of Crowe these days.

      • LT says:

        I remember that whole situation well. My perception was NOT that she was blamed for the downfall of the marriage because it was so well known that Quaid had cheated on her and had a drug problem – I thought people basically “got it.” She did, however, look foolish for falling for Crowe, who clearly saw her as a conquest and not a romantic partner. I felt terrible for her – the whole situation seemed like a mess.

        But – live and learn. She’s still with Mellancamp, right?

      • Esme says:

        On Mellencamp: I looked and there’s a rumor that she and John M. are planning a summer wedding. If that’s true, Quaid could be a shitster for putting out the Meg comment right now.
        Or is he trying to write a new ending of his story with Meg- a reconciliation? (Parent Trap is one of my favorite movies, I admit it. )

      • VirgiliaCoriolanus says:

        @Esme
        They have a son together don’t they? It might just be him trying to bridge the gap. I don’t follow Quaid at all, so I have no idea how he is/has been. I’ve only ever heard that he was a huge druggie and cheater when younger/with Meg.

        IDK…they might be on good terms now. I’ve had a few of my aunts divorce shitty, cheating husbands who left them broke with kids 20+ years ago….and now they are friends/friendly with their exes because the exes in that time period got their shit together and did what they were supposed to.

      • holly hobby says:

        I think Dennis is dating someone 20 years his junior so nope, no reconciliation. Crowe does not get a pass from me. I refused to watch any of his movies after he pulled that stunt with Meg.

  7. shirurusu says:

    I’ve heard so many bad rumours about Dennis Quaid being a sleaze-ball and hitting on much younger women that I felt very sorry for Meg when she took off with Russell Crowe and got the whole blame for the marriage breaking up. He’d basically been cheating on her night and day and then she finally has enough of his jealousy and bad behaviour and walks away and the press just destroys her. I thought it was really spectacularly unfair in her case.

    • Esmom says:

      That’s how I remember it, too. She really vilified for taking off with Crowe. As Kaiser said, her career never really recovered from it.

      And my People mag came on Fridays, lol. One time I was away for the weekend my friend insisted on buying one at the grocery store even though hers was waiting in her mailbox at home. She said she couldn’t wait, she needed the celeb gossip immediately. I remember the big story cover was Hugh Grant and Divine Brown, lol.

    • LadyT says:

      I remember the horrible way it was handled in the press too. The story should have been Meg FINALLY breaks away from that coked-up, steroid-raging, cheating husband of hers.

    • Yep, this is how I remember it as well. Meg took all the blame in the press. There was this undercurrent that DQ wasn’t that great of a person, but it was still all laid on Meg, and nothing was said about RC at all.

  8. babypeanut says:

    Meg had just entered her forties when she left Dennis, so her career would have (unfortunately) naturally declined. I also think it was her disfiguring her face more than her divorce scandal that slowed her career aspects.

    • Mel says:

      Nope, she was in her thirties and her career was damaged because of what happened. She was painted as dumping her husband instead of a woman escaping a selfish, drug-addicted, cheating sleazeball. The only thing I fault her for is for taking Russell Crowe seriously, instead of the douchebag that he is. He dumped her shortly after and treated her like it a fling when she thought she was in a relationship.

      • babypeanut says:

        @Mel, Meg was born in 1961 and divorced in 2001. Math tells me she was either forty or about to turn so. Kate & Leopold came out that same year and was a success. She went on to make In the Cut which was a dark, erotic thriller which was against the grain of her typical role. And then by 2004 she made Against the Ropes which was not only another role out of her typical genre, she had already starting significantly messing with her face. By the way, “Nope”, is rather a rude way to respond to someone’s post.

      • sommolierlady says:

        She was 39 when she got with Crowe.

      • Jan90067 says:

        I just watched that again with a visiting GF last night! We couldn’t get over how cute she was then (I think she’d only *just* inflated her upper lip just a bit, and she looked fantastic!). She and Hugh Jackman… sigh…

        She really got a raw deal with Quaid. He comes from crazy, no wonder.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Her face has been even more of a problem nowadays than the Crowe incident. I think she was unfairly treated and suffered but her facial surgery basically ruined her looks and meant she couldn’t recover. They started citing her online as an example of bad plastic surgery and calling her The Joker. My husband saw her in LA in the early 2000s and said it was tragic what her face looked like in real life. That wasn’t that far away from her split with Quaid.

      I think the fact that the other man was such a giant star (with a bad boy rep) at the time made things worse. So when Crowe dumped her so publicly it made her look like she foolishly threw away her family and a “good” man for sex. She committed the unforgivable social sin society never forgives women for and that is cheating on the father of her precious child that she should ALWAYS think of first and foremost. She should be happy with her lot because she is living the patriarchial dream and sex should no longer be a priority for her. The fact that she was American’s sweet blonde girl next door meant that her betrayal against this perception and ideal meant that she would wear the metaphorical scarlet letter for the rest of her career.

      I mean Julia Roberts still works and she’s had a messier love life.

      • Nancy says:

        Her allure was her little innocent ladida thing which she ripped off of Diane Keaton, in my movie buff opinion. Once she effed with her face, she was done. She looked horrible and never recouped. Running off with Crowe was lame, she insists she dumped him, as if it matters, right?! Lol. Hollyweird

      • Lola says:

        Uhm some people here have the wrong idea about Ryans relationship with Crowe, obviously some read the National Enquirer too much, lol! SHE was the one who ended it after 6 months and he was not in some kind of bet with the crew. He even slammed reports claiming it was just another fling, telling EW in 2001 that words would necer be able to convey what their relationship had meant to him. They actually kept in touch right up untill he hooked bak up with his now ex wife in 2002.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @Lola
        What really happened doesn’t matter to the public. The perception has stuck and she can’t shake it. Then it becomes the “truth” even when it isn’t. It was never fair in the first place.

        @Nancy
        She was never a favorite of mine either. I don’t think I have seen a movie I liked with her in it.

    • JRenee says:

      Babypeanut…yes^^

  9. JAC says:

    I mean, I know we’re going to say he was a horrible person, but I think it would bother me too. Being the more successful person, the bread winner etc – and then suddenly not. And I am a woman, so I don’t have the added cultural pressure of having to be the more successful one. Does that make me a horrible person?

    • Jamie Cheng says:

      no, it just depends on how you dealt with it. He dealt with it by cheating on her constantly with younger woman.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      It might be understandable and “relatable” to feel uncomfortable with changing roles in a relationship, but not understandable and “relatable” to respond to those changes through steady drug use and cheating — i.e. by hurting your partner.

      Glad he’s honest about it now. I have always liked him as an actor.

  10. SJhere says:

    I always thought Meg was too good for him. During their marriage he was a well-known cheater and drug abuser. I think she did a lot of hard time trying to keep the marriage going. And, frankly for me, his admitting his crappy behaviour is too little, too late.
    He has a lousy history in relationships/marriages. He is no prize, and at 64 years old…it’s about time he took a good hard look at his behaviour. Yeah, 30 years later NOW he realizes he was a prize ass.

  11. Veronica S. says:

    It is fragile male ego, but honestly, I’d rather him be honest about it. A lot of men – particularly white men – are raised in Western culture to believe their needs, desires, and capabilities should be held in precedence to everybody else’s, and I’m sure that’s only exacerbated in the narcissistic fame environment of Hollywood where EVERYONE thinks they’re something special. Admitting that fault is a sign of growth and maturity and highlights the subtle ways in which men are taught to view women as their inferiors. *shrugs* He acknowledges that he was a bad husband. It’s not like he can fix it now.

  12. saltandpepper says:

    He was so handsome back in the day and had a wonderful career ahead of him, he was the whole package. Good that he’s admitting to this, puts things in perspective. They had massive fame and neither handled it in a healthy way. Her ruined face says a lot about her demons. At least he’s ‘facing’ his.

  13. Electric Tuba says:

    He and Randy have some very deep, very real issues that should probably be adressed. He still drinks and parties and gets really weird.
    You guys see his WWHL interview with Cohen? Lawd a mess

    • Angela82 says:

      I stumbled upon Randy’s twitter last night unfortunately. And WOW. He is full blown obsessed with hating Hillary. He needs to be put in a mental ward.

  14. Annie says:

    There are people who never make it in this business. Anyone who’s still getting consistent work and is still a relative big name should be content with that. I wouldn’t care if I was only known for romantic comedies. Meg’s romcoms were good. We don’t have anything like that today. Something so wholesome and sweet and fun. We have Amy Schumer’s bad movies. I don’t think we have a true rom com young star like Meg was back then. Not even Jennifer Aniston could pull off that movie career. Meg killed her career trying to be dramatic, doing frontal nudity and ruining her face.

    That quote where Dennis says that was still his best relationship makes me sad. I didn’t take this interview as fragile male ego if he’s willing to admit to that!

  15. Leigh-Klein says:

    I remember reading a long time ago an interview where she said, “My marriage was broken long before Russell.” I believe her. That’s too bad. I liked them together.

  16. Natalia says:

    Typical white male privilege jerk. Just shut it. He was a douche and most people knew it.

    As for her, I wish she were still acting more frequently. I would totally buy her in serious roles. Unfortunately, some of her recent movies have been so stupid I wouldn’t bother with them. I miss seeing her though.

  17. Lola says:

    Quaid cheated on Meg Ryan like crazy during the late nineties. But people still blame her for Crowe. So sexist. And while she guarded her private life to protect their then young son, he decided to let the lies live on and on and on. Even these days he is being dishonest. He didnt just cheat on Meg for years, he cheated on third wife kimberly too, causing his third divorce. And now of course he is dating a 30 yr old, who wont give a sh@t what sh/tty things he does, just as long as she gets to use his credit cards. Sorry, but no sympathy from me for Quaid whatsoever. He is a jealous man who feels everything bad happening to him is other peoples fault. Must bite his behind that hes dating a golddigger while she is dating a real musician who is pretty much more famous than he is too, hehehehe..

    Ps, saw several interviews with him this past year where general concencus was he was drunk and/or stoned. Sure looked like he was drunk and/or stoned. Lets hope he doesnt slip to cocaine again.

  18. clatie says:

    Of course he leaves out the part where he nailed rando girls CONSTANTLY. I remember him cruising for sorority girls at USC bars. He never left alone.

  19. Felicia says:

    I didn’t so much have the impression that her career tanked back then “because she cheated on Quaid” so much as the fact that she did so was inconsistent with her image as “America’s Sweetheart” and “the girl next door” and she was pigeonholed into those kind of roles. It’s maybe a fine distinction, but if she had been doing films where she was in the “dangerous temptress” pigeonhole, it probably wouldn’t have had the same effect on her career.

    Quaid… he was smoking hot in “The Big Easy”.

  20. Lady D says:

    30 years after her career was trashed he speaks up. Oh goody. He sat back and enjoyed spiteful glee while she was being destroyed career-wise, now he wants adulation for admitting it.

    • Ginny says:

      Yes this is so true!!! Shame on him! Word is his son is mad at him for this though amd; refuses to have anything to do with the girl quaid is now dating. Quaid puts his own needs before those of his three kids.

  21. Jaded says:

    Dennis Quaid suffers from EddieCibrianitis.

  22. teehee says:

    No stars for this kiddo. For centuries women are having to take backstage positions to morons who “can’t handle the feewings”. Yeah this doesn’t do much to motivate men, but uh, we hold them to standards that are FAR too low.

  23. ryan says:

    to me it sounds like he is saying he didnt think was that “small” in the sense that he was petty in feeling overshadowed by his wife. acknowledging that he was small and petty. but thats just me. maybe theres not enough context to understand his full meaning as its a pretty ambigous statement.

  24. Jamie says:

    I’d rather hear Dennis’ comments about his brother than hear him rehashing stuff from the 90s with Meg.