The actress, 42, stars as boxing manager Jackie Kallen in Against
the Ropes. The film, inspired by a true story, opens Feb. 20.
SI: Now that you've done this movie, how much money would get you
to do Celebrity Boxing--maybe go three rounds with Tonya Harding?
Ryan: [Laughs.] I've seen those fights. There is no amount of
money you can offer me.
SI: You had no interest in boxing before this movie. How has
playing Jackie shaped your views on the sport?
Ryan: Hanging around Jackie and Roc [director and costar Charles
S. Dutton] gave me an education. I read Thomas Hauser, Joyce
Carol Oates and Norman Mailer on boxing, and I was impressed by
boxing being used in a beautiful, metaphoric way. When it was put
in a context for me, even in a poetic context, I started to like
it. It's pure competition amid what's thought of as a corrupt
environment. Hauser called it the red-light district of sport.
The juxtaposition became interesting to me.
SI: We heard you met Mike Tyson in Las Vegas, and he mistook you
for Melanie Griffith.
Ryan: I can't even begin to describe this encounter. He thought
my mom was Tippi Hedren. In Vegas he trains at the Golden Gloves
Gym, and I got to watch him spar. He is a force, that guy.
SI: During production of the film you attended your first Las
Vegas fight. What was that like?
Ryan: I saw Lennox Lewis fight Hasim Rahman [Nov. 21, 2001], and
when Lewis knocked him out, it was a completely extreme,
electrifying experience. I had never been in a crowd that reacted
like that. That's when you see the social value in it; there's a
release for everybody. It's something innate in everyone, this
kind of aggression, so why not give it a healthy outlet.
SI: Notice any similarities between the sport of boxing and the
business of Hollywood?
Ryan: Both arenas are male-dominated, and [a woman] can very
easily be judged by your sexuality. In our movie it's part of
what Jackie used to get in the door. But it's a double-edged
sword because it can turn around and be your worst enemy. You see
that pretty often in Hollywood.
SI: Is there another sports role you'd like to play?
Ryan: I haven't thought about it, but remember ... I am pretty
For more from Meg Ryan, go to si.com/siexclusive.
COLOR PHOTO: PARAMOUNT PICTURES (RYAN) Won't fight Tonya