The same year, Ryan returned to type, starring alongside Tim Robbins in Fred Schepisi's romantic comedy I. The film centers on a mechanic and a Princeton doctoral candidate who fall in love, with the aid of the graduate student's uncle, Albert Einstein (played by Walter Matthau).
Also in 1994, Ryan won Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award, and People Magazine dubbed her one of "the 50 most beautiful people in the world." In 1995, critic Richard Corliss called her "the current soul of romantic comedy." That same year, she appeared opposite Kevin Kline in Lawrence Kasdan's French Kiss, a romantic comedy that catered to her "America's Sweetheart" image, and Ryan was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.
Although her image-conflicting depiction earned Ryan and the film much media attention, the film failed with critics and grossed only million in theaters.
She continued the strategy of acting against type with a leading role in Charles S. and was panned by critics, in part because of its resemblance to other boxing films, such as the Rocky series.
(This award is given to "outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.") In 1997, Ryan voiced the lead role in the animated film Anastasia, which garnered good reviews and enjoyed box office success.
She also appeared opposite Matthew Broderick in Addicted to Love playing a female lead at least superficially different than her usual direction, as one of a pair of jilted lovers bent on revenge. City of Angels drew positive reviews and became a financial success, topping nearly 0 million worldwide.
The same year, Ryan was cast in the action thriller Proof of Life with Russell Crowe, directed by Taylor Hackford.
In the film, she portrayed the distraught wife of a kidnapped engineer, played by David Morse, while relying on a resourceful troubleshooter who makes a profession of dealing with international bandits.
In 2015, she made her directorial debut with Ithaca, a film in which she also acted. Her parents divorced in 1976 when she was 15 years old.
Hanks and Ryan would be paired for a third time in the film You've Got Mail.
In 1994, Ryan took a role that differed from the romantic-comedy ingenue character for which she had become famous.
While the film became a lukewarm critical and commercial success, grossing million worldwide, it garnered much reportage in the tabloid press in association with Ryan and Crowe's affair.
A year later, she once again returned to her romantic comedy roots with Kate & Leopold (2001), alongside Hugh Jackman.Ryan began her acting career in 1981 in minor roles, before joining the cast of the CBS soap opera As the World Turns in 1982.