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Meg Ryan Bares All

For years, Meg Ryan held the "America's Sweetheart" title, putting her button nose to work in meet-cute romantic comedies. So what's she doing in a dark, erotic indie thriller like Jane Campion's In the Cut (opening Oct. 22)? Though Ryan has acted in a number of dramas (When a Man Loves a Woman, Courage Under Fire) this is quite a departure. But she doesn't really mind that her latest gig is raising some eyebrows. "[In the Cut] is an interior exploration, and a genre I've never done before," Ryan says. "I can see why people put me in a box about romantic comedy, and I understand that, because those have made more money than other things I've done." In Cut, she trades in her perky blond bob for a dull brown 'do, playing a single English teacher in New York City. Things don't stay dull for long, though,

Sabrina Rojas Weiss

For years, Meg Ryan held the "America's Sweetheart" title, putting her button nose to work in meet-cute romantic comedies. So what's she doing in a dark, erotic indie thriller like Jane Campion's In the Cut (opening Oct. 22)? Though Ryan has acted in a number of dramas (When a Man Loves a Woman, Courage Under Fire) this is quite a departure. But she doesn't really mind that her latest gig is raising some eyebrows.

"[In the Cut] is an interior exploration, and a genre I've never done before," Ryan says. "I can see why people put me in a box about romantic comedy, and I understand that, because those have made more money than other things I've done."

In Cut, she trades in her perky blond bob for a dull brown 'do, playing a single English teacher in New York City. Things don't stay dull for long, though, as she gets entangled in a murder mystery — and the intriguing detective (Mark Ruffalo) investigating it. The movie's many hot and heavy scenes are pretty eye-popping, but Ryan prefers to place more emphasis on the film's emotional content.

"When I read the script, there was something very familiar about it," she explains. "It worked on this place in my unconscious/subconscious world that was disquieting. As a piece, I really loved it.

"[My character] Frannie's in this heartbroken place," Ryan adds, inadvertently reminding us of her own public heartaches. "Happily ever after has passed her by — that's her deep suspicion. I think a lot of people have that in common. You don't find the big fixer; you don't find the one who makes it all okay, really. I definitely have parts of me that understand that. I think most people do."