Ray Liotta’s last-known public moments conveyed happy times for the critically acclaimed actor.
Liotta, 67, died in his sleep while filming “Dangerous Waters” in the Dominican Republic, according to reports Thursday.
He was last seen in public holding his hands with his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo, 46, on May 1.
The two were spotted in good spirits walking in Pacific Palisades, California, where Liotta lived, after enjoying a Sunday meal at Spruzzo Italian restaurant. The couple has been engaged since Christmas 2020.
Liotta’s final social media post was just two days later, when he posted to Instagram about his upcoming project, the Elizabeth Banks-directed movie “Cocaine Bear,” which had targeted a February 2023 release. Liotta had several upcoming projects, according to IMDb, including “Cocaine Bear.”
“Cocaine Bear follows an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of the white powder and goes on a coke-fueled rampage seeking more blow — and blood,” his post explained, along with a screenshot of a Hollywood Reporter article announcing the theatrical release of the movie, which is in post-production.
Nittolo allegedly accompanied Liotta on set in the Dominican Republic while he was filming. She has not commented on the heartbreaking news.
Meanwhile, Liotta’s “Goodfellas” co-star Robert De Niro shared his feelings about Liotta’s death with The Post.
“I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing,” he said in a statement. “He is way too young to have left us. May he rest in peace.”
Liotta’s IMDb page also lists the TV series “Black Bird” and film “El Tonto” — its name has reportedly been changed to an unknown title — as completed. He was reportedly also set to film “The Substance” and “April 29, 1992.”
Liotta has 126 acting credits but is best known for his breakout role in the renowned 1990 Martin Scorsese flick “Goodfellas,” where he played New York mobster Henry Hill alongside De Niro and Joe Pesci.
Liotta is survived by a daughter, Karsen, 23, with his first wife, actress and producer Michelle Grace.
Sir Patrick Stewart apologises to Europe for Brexit in 2017
Tonight, Sir Patrick’s iconic role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard is once again on show when Star Trek Generations airs tonight on Film4 from 6:45pm. The film follows Picard as he travels into a time vortex to seek the assistance of his predecessor, James T Kirk, played by Hollywood legend William Shatner, after an alien threatens to demolish a star system. Sir Patrick’s performances as Picard have earned him glowing reviews from TV and film fans from across the globe, and even spawned a new Amazon Prime series named after his protagonist.
But despite the goodwill the actor has received, Sir Patrick, 81, was once incensed at the UK’s historic decision to take back control in 2016.
Four years after Brexit was voted for by the public, Sir Patrick voiced his frustrations at the vote, describing it as the “grimmest thing” to have happened to him in his political experience.
Speaking to PA Media, Sir Patrick described the vote as something that “makes me very, very sad”.
He continued: “I think what is happening with the European Union is actually the saddest, grimmest thing that has happened to me since I have been involved in politics.”
Patrick Stewart’s miserable Brexit whinge as he moaned EU split ‘grimmest thing’ (Image: GETTY)
Patrick Stewart was infuriated with Brexit (Image: GETTY)
His confession wasn’t the first time that Sir Patrick would air his grievances with the political system, not only in the UK but in the US.
In an interview with Esquire in 2020, the Yorkshire-born legend described the ongoing presidency of then-US leader Donald Trump as “very disturbing”.
He compared it to the UK’s situation with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who he noted he’d previously “always enjoyed when he was Mayor London because he was witty”, yet wasn’t someone who “should be in Downing Street”.
The Golden Globe nominee said: “It’s especially dismaying because it seems to me that in many cases, the people who voted for Boris Johnson, and the people who voted for Donald Trump, are the ones who are in the long run going to suffer the most from what’s happening.
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Patrick Stewart on stage in his younger years (Image: GETTY)
“And then there is Brexit. Our leaving the EU was one of the saddest days of my life.”
The star detailed how when carrying out Picard duties in Berlin, in particular a Q&A with an audience, Sir Patrick was asked something about Brexit.
During his “little speech”, Sir Patrick explained how saddened he felt at the UK/EU break-up, adding that the word union was “one of the most important words that could ever be attached to politics”.
He concluded: “The audience rose to their feet and applauded, and I’ve never had that happen before, it almost brought me to tears.
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Patrick Stewart collecting his knighthood in 2010 (Image: GETTY)
“It was very humbling and heartwarming.”
Sir Patrick has previously discussed his own political beliefs, with “fairness” and “equality” at his core.
The Labour Party, the star told the Independent in 2003, was the organisation he supported in the UK, considering himself a socialist.
He said: “My father was a very strong trade unionist and those fundamental issues of Labour were ingrained into me.”
Filming locations in the UK (Image: EXPRESS)
Sir Patrick added: “What the hell are people going to do if they don’t support Labour? Who else is there?
“I stand by the party absolutely. It doesn’t mean you’re an enthusiast for every action that the Prime Minister, the Cabinet or the party takes.
“But, fundamentally, it stands for what I believe is the most just kind of society we can have here.
“I lived under those 18 years of Conservatism, under that monster [Margaret] Thatcher.”
While he remained a key Labour supporter, Sir Patrick once had to deny he had left the party after concerns he held over former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Star Trek Generations airs tonight on Film4 from 6:45pm.
Florence Pugh is setting the record straight on whether she and Will Poulter are dating.
“Ooookay. Man. This is getting a little silly now. No, Will Poulter and I are not dating,” the actress, 26, wrote via her Instagram Stories on Tuesday, days after pics of the two hanging out in Ibiza went viral.
“We went to the beach with our friends, who are always about a half a metre away from us in every picture, but have been cleverly cut out/ framed out so that it looks otherwise. You can LITERALLY see my best friend in the corner of so many shots and Archie’s arms at the sides.”
She continued, “I understand that the nature of this job is that you sometimes get your privacy completely bulldozed by paparazzi, but to fabricate this stuff actually does more damage than good. Thanks for saying we look sexy..doesn’t mean we’re doing the sexy.”
The “Little Women” actress went on to share photos from the same seaside outing, which featured her other friends who were allegedly cropped out of the viral snaps.
“Another note, a very important note. There’s no need to drag people through this,” she urged in another post. “Regardless of your opinion on who I should or shouldn’t be with, at the end of the day, if you’re complimenting someone by trolling another person…you’re just bullying. There’s literally no need to be horrible online- no need.”
“Think about what you write. Think about who it affects,” Pugh added before uploading more photos from the group beach trip.
Prior to flicks of the “Midsommar” co-stars frolicking at the beach, Pugh has been linked to “Scrubs” star Zach Braff since 2018. She recently posted a sweet tribute to the actor on his 47th birthday in April.
“Mary Poppins” icon Dick Van Dyke, 96, was in high spirits as he stepped out in a “Spoonful of Sugar” sweatshirt in Malibu, California, on Wednesday.
The age-defying actor was accompanied by his wife Arlene Silver, 50, as they headed to lunch after finishing up a fitness class at a nearby gym.
The couple celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary back in February by going viral with a romantic Valentine’s Day video — but still looked like loved-up newlyweds as they shared a laugh while strolling along in the sun.
In addition to the sweatshirt referencing his most famous film role, Van Dyke kept things casual for the lunch date, donning a pair of Adidas sweatpants he presumably wore for his workout.
The “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” star is famous for keeping fit and healthy in spite of his advancing age, telling Closer Weekly that he still hits the gym three times a week.
“I’ve always been an exerciser and still am . . . I get in the pool and exercise. At my age, they say to keep moving. Put me on solid ground and I’ll start tapping,” he declared in an interview with the magazine back in 2019.
Van Dyke revealed he does water aerobics, lifts weights and walks on a treadmill. He also credited his fit physique to “good genes.”
Meanwhile, the smitten star said much-younger Silver also keeps him on his toes.
“I sometimes forget that we’re doing a great experiment here — 46 years difference. And we work at it to some extent,” he explained. “There’s got to be some understanding, find out what old habits don’t work anymore. It takes some adjusting and fitting in, but that’s part of the fun of it.”
Van Dyke first met Silver at the 2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards. At the time, he was 81 and she was just 35.
“He said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick.’ The first thing I asked him was, ‘Weren’t you in “Mary Poppins”?’ We got along immediately as friends, so it didn’t feel like he was so much older than me,” she told the publication.
The devoted wife further cooed: “He is the most perfect human being. I’ve never met anyone so happy, so genuine, so amazing. He’s just like a happy pill.”
The pair were friends for several years before their relationship turned romantic.
Van Dyke said he was relieved his fans were supportive of the relationship, adding: “I thought there would be an outcry about a gold digger marrying an old man, but no one ever took that attitude.”
Back in February, the couple showed off their fun-loving relationship in a video posted in honor of Valentine’s Day.
The pair were seen dancing to a cover of the 1958 Doris Day song “Everybody Loves a Lover” performed by Silver’s band, Arlene & the Vantastix.
Silver is Van Dyke’s second wife. The four-time Emmy winner split from his first wife and mother of his four children, Margie Willett, in 1984 after 36 years of marriage.
Van Dyke was also in a relationship with actress Michelle Triola for more than 30 years until she died in 2009.
Rebekah and Jamie Vardy leave court after sixth trial day
The WAG was accused of leaking information from Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account to the press in October 2019, which she denies. Now Vardy, 40, is suing Coleen for libel at London’s High Court. As the trial comes to an end, we look back at nine key exchanges between Rebekah Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt.
The ‘Photoshop girl’
Giving evidence, Vardy was asked about the so-called ‘Photoshop girl’ conversation with Caroline where they discuss edited photos.
An image appears to have been sent to Caroline by Vardy, but the trial heard that, due to issues with uploading Whatsapp data, all the image files have been lost.
Vardy says to Watt that the pictures “made her fume” as the editing software Photoshop can make you look “five sizes smaller”.
Giving evidence, Vardy said that, when she told Caroline to “leak a story”, she was talking about a report on “body positivity”.
Rebekah Vardy, 40, was accused of leaking information from Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account (Image: Getty)
Messages between Rebekah Vardy and Caroline Watt have been made public (Image: Court handout)
‘Lads are fuming’
The court saw messages between Vardy and Caroline in which they discuss Jamie Vardy’s former Leicester City team mate Riyad Mahrez “not turning up to training”.
Vardy tells Watt: “Lads are fuming”.
An article in The Sun was later published stating Mahrez’s teammates had “turned on him” which David Sherborne, for Rooney, said no other media outlet had.
Vardy said this had nothing to do with her.
She told the court the story was based on information already in the public domain.
Riyad Mahrez played for Leicester City alongside Jamie Vardy (Image: PA)
A message refers to then Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez (Image: Court handout)
World Cup WAG dinner
A photograph of a number of WAGs at a restaurant in Russia during the 2018 World Cup was discussed at the trial.
In a Whatsapp exchange between Caroline and Vardy, the pair discuss how Vardy is getting to the restaurant and having a photographer get a “good pic of us walking down”.
Vardy later messages Watt: “F*** I made everyone go outside for a pic and the pap was there. Looks like I tipped him off now”.
After the photo is taken, Caroline tells Vardy she cannot identify all the girls in the picture to which Vardy replies: “Fern, Millie, Gemma, Annabel, Shannon, Megan, Annie”.
Giving evidence, Vardy said she had arranged with Caroline for a photographer to take photographs of her as she was walking down for dinner and not with the other women.
Asked if Caroline was coming up with excuses for her to give to the other WAGs to ‘buy time’ so the photographer could send his pictures to the press, Vardy said: “Well it reads like that but I don’t remember it like that and to be honest I had been drinking quite a lot that day.”
Rebekah Vardy and Jamie Vardy arrive at court (Image: Daily Express)
The pair discuss a picture taken at the 2018 World Cup (Image: Court handout)
The ‘affair’ story
A redacted version of a conversation between Caroline and Vardy was shown to the court as alleged evidence of them leaking a story about other parties to The Sun.
Vardy tells Caroline: “Omg have you seen how badly F is behaving x
“Leak the story about her s******* G behind H’s back x”
The court heard the pair are referring to a female celebrity who had cheated on her husband with a footballer.
Giving evidence, Vardy said: “I was just joking about that one.”
A redacted version of a conversation between Caroline and Rebekah was shown to the court (Image: Court handout)
Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney watched their partners play for England (Image: PA)
The court heard a story appeared in The Sun about a car crash Rooney was alleged to have had while in America in January 2019.
On January 23, Caroline messaged Vardy asking her client to confirm whether, on the previous day, she had told her that Rooney had crashed her Honda. Vardy replies: “She defo has”.
On January 25, Caroline then tells Vardy a journalist at The Sun is trying to do a story on the crash and she had told him she is “100% confident”.
Later that day, Caroline sends a picture to Vardy and asks if it is the picture Rooney posted, to which Vardy replies: “Yeah that’s it! Different pic though x”.
The Instagram picture which made Vardy believe Rooney had a crash was shown to the court.
Rooney told the court she had not had a crash but that a lorry had scraped the side of her car.
In court, Mr Sherborne said: “What Ms Watt is doing is passing on the information to him, which he knows is coming from you.”
Vardy said: “Mr Halls, as far as I know, already had the information, he already had the picture. I confirmed she had definitely crashed it.”
On January 27, the pair are discussing a post on Rooney’s Twitter in which she talks about the story being leaked from her Instagram, to which Caroline tells Vardy: “And it wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”.
Caroline messaged Rebekah asking her client to confirm whether she had told her Coleen crashed a car (Image: Court handout)
Information from Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account was allegedly leaked to the press (Image: PA)
Coleen ‘unfollows’ Rebekah
The court heard Rooney unfollowed Vardy in February 2019 after becoming more suspicious that she was leaking information from her Instagram account.
In a series of Whatsapp messages, Caroline told Vardy to message Rooney in “a few weeks” to ask her why.
Vardy tells Caroline: “That c*** needs to get over herself! X” and “That’s falling out material x”
She also says she is “offended” Rooney suspects her of leaking stories, adding: “I mean ffs Dawn f****** ward is still on there x”. Rooney later told the court that she had ruled out Dawn Ward, star of Real Housewives of Cheshire, as being responsible for the leaks as she had known her for years.
The pair also discuss how to message Rooney and ask why she had unfollowed her, including suggesting a booker at Loose Women asked if she wanted to come on the show.
Giving evidence, Rooney said it “knocked me sick” when she saw Vardy had mentioned her sister Rosie, who suffered from Rett Syndrome, who died aged 14 in 2013.
Vardy denied using the anniversary of Rosie’s death as ‘the peg’ to message Rooney about the unfollowing.
The pair discuss Coleen unfollowing Rebekah (Image: Court handout)
The ‘Gender Selection’ post
Rooney said she posted a fake story to her Instagram in April 2019 suggesting she was looking into gender selection.
After the story was posted Vardy messaged Caroline: “Coleen’s Instagram. Wonder if they are going for baby 5 x”
She then follows up to say: “Maybe she’s just put it to see if anyone gives it to the media x”
In cross-examination, Mr Sherborne asked Vardy: “You knew Caroline was looking through Mrs Rooney’s account to see what Mrs Rooney was putting up there, yes or no?”
Vardy said: “Yes. Of course she saw something on her Instagram, that’s undeniable because it says it there, but she has never said once that she is stalking or monitoring her account.”
Rebekah, who is a model, denies leaking Rooney’s information and is suing her for libel (Image: REUTERS)
Rebekah messaged Caroline this in April 2019 (Image: Court handout)
Danny Drinkwater arrest
Another story Vardy is accused of leaking to the press is regarding the arrest of Chelsea player Danny Drinkwater for drink-driving in April 2019.
Vardy tells Caroline: “Story… Danny Drinkwater arrest x”
She then goes on to tell Caroline he “crashed his car drunk with 2 girls in it” and that he had “only just been let out the cells”.
Caroline then informs Vardy “Just sent it to Andy Halls” but then, a few seconds later, said someone had “leaked it from the police station”.
Asked about the messages in court, Vardy said the information was already on social media and the message about payment was “fleeting” and “not a serious comment”.
She said: “It was something I felt was dangerous and at the time I didn’t care if the information came out or not. And it was rightly something he should have to deal with.”
Mr Sherborne asked her: “Why are you fuming that you didn’t give it to Caroline earlier?”
Vardy said: “I don’t know why I was fuming I didn’t give it to Caroline earlier. It wasn’t because The Sun already had it for their front page.”
Messages pertain to the arrest of Danny Drinkwater (Image: Court handout)
Wayne Rooney, now Derby County boss, is pictured outside court (Image: REUTERS)
The reveal tweet
Messages between Vardy and Caroline minutes after Coleen posted her allegations that Vardy had been leaking stories from her private Instagram account were shown to the court.
In them, Caroline tells her: “Message her now and ask what the f*** this is x” and Vardy says: “Wow that’s war”.
Caroline then suggests what to say to Coleen and, after around 20 minutes, sends Vardy a message that she will eventually post on her social media channels in reply to Coleen.
Later that day, Vardy sends Caroline a number of images and says: “Jesus Christ I hope she’s f***ing happy now x”.
She later adds: “I can’t just sit back and let her get away with this.”
Wayne Rooney spoke at the libel case involving his wife Coleen and Rebekah Vardy (Image: Getty Images)
The former England footballer’s comments came during a trial following Coleen’s accusation that Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah leaked information from her private Instagram account in October 2019. Rebekah Vardy denies this and is suing Coleen for libel.
Wayne, now Derby County boss, gave evidence for around 20 minutes at London’s High Court this morning.
The Manchester United legend, 36, said it had been a “long week” and that it was the “first time” he was hearing much of the information of the case as the couple had “not discussed it”.
He continued: “I don’t think anyone wants to be in court. For me and my wife we don’t want to be in court. I certainly don’t, I don’t think my wife wants to be in that situation.
“I have watched my wife over the last two and a half years really struggle with what’s going on. She has become a different mother, a different wife.
“It’s been traumatic for my wife throughout the situation and hopefully, whatever the judgement is in this case, myself, my wife and our children can go on and live our lives because it’s not something we want to be part of.
“I have been here to support my wife and this week has been the first week I have had any understanding of how it all happened.”
Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy at the Wales v England match at Euro 2016 (Image: Daily Mirror)
Wayne also said he had spoken to Jamie Vardy about his wife Rebekah during the 2016 Euros after being told by then-England manager Roy Hodgson that she needed to “calm down”.
The father of four was being questioned in relation to an article in The Sun from 2016, that alleged he had a conversation with Jamie Vardy about his wife.
Wayne said today that he was “pulled aside” by England’s Roy Hodgson and assistant manager Gary Neville and asked to speak to Vardy about Rebekah’s column.
He said this was after the players had a “conversation about the tournament” and agreed they didn’t want “any newspaper columns or any articles”.
Wayne said he remembered the conversation “as it was so awkward” and took place in a games room where the England team spent their downtime playing “darts and pool”.
He told the court: “They asked me, as captain, would I be able to speak to Mr Vardy on issues we have had with his wife.
“I think we all know it was an awkward subject to ask me to speak to Mr Vardy and ask him to speak to his wife, and ask him to ask his wife to calm down and not bring any issues off the field which was unnecessary.”
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy accompanied his partner for the seventh day of the hearing (Image: REUTERS)
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Rebekah, said: “You asked his wife to calm down – but she wasn’t dancing on tables was she? What kind of calming down did she need to do?”
Wayne replied: “She wasn’t [dancing on tables] as far as I was aware.
“There was a lot of negativity as I have heard in the court this week, a lot of negative coverage which, as a group of players and the manager of England, he didn’t want that to happen and he asked would I be able to speak to Jamie which I went and done.
“I think there were a few things at the time with Rebekah which England, the leads of the team, asked me to speak to Jamie about and I was under the understanding Rebekah had a column in The Sun newspaper.
“As I stated, I had bigger things on my mind, it would be an awkward moment for me to speak to Jamie about his wife but I felt it was necessary, having been asked by the England manager and assistant manager.”
Mr Tomlinson said: “She had a perfectly permissible column in The Sun and that’s what you complained about.”
Wayne said: “I didn’t complain about it. It wasn’t set out in law but players, before the tournament, said they didn’t want any newspaper columns or articles. That was a conversation we had as a group of players and Mrs Vardy had a column in The Sun.”
Rooney gave evidence for around 20 minutes (Image: Getty)
Wayne agreed there were “a lot of made up stories” about players and their partners in the press and that any comments he gave to press at the time about the alleged chat were to “protect” the team.
He said: “I know I spoke to Jamie 100%, whether he goes on to give that information to his wife that’s entirely his choice but that’s not down to me.
“I remember the conversation I had with Jamie. As I explained, it was awkward to me to have to speak to a teammate regarding their wife.
“We had a games room with a darts board and table tennis and I sat down with Mr Vardy and I spoke to him. I remember he had a can of Red Bull and I had a coffee. I remember details of that conversation because it was such an awkward moment for me to have to speak to him.”
Mr Tomlinson then asked Wayne whether he remembered a Facetime call with Rebekah where she alleges he asked her husband about the Sun article and he spun the camera to Wayne, who told her the conversation had not happened.
He said: “I don’t recall that conversation ever taking place. What I do recall is Mrs Vardy was on Facetime a lot throughout the tournament with Jamie. In the lads down time we played darts and pool, Mrs Vardy was almost there with the team. She was on Facetime a lot.”
Wayne added: “It wasn’t my place to speak to Mrs Vardy.”
Wagatha Christie: Vardy and Rooney depart court after day five
The Derby County manager told the court that the first time he knew about his wife’s sting operation was when the post was released on October 9, 2019, while he was in America and Coleen was in England.
He said Coleen had mentioned in 2017 that she was “upset” about someone leaking information from her private Instagram account but they had not mentioned it again.
Jamie was not someone he was friends with socially, Wayne said, so he did not reach out to him about Coleen’s suspicions.
He said: “My wife explained she believed the stories from the private Instagram account were getting leaked. I’m not big on social media and I didn’t want to get involved.
“I think my wife is an independent woman who has her own things and I didn’t want to get involved at all in the way the situation was.
“We have four children to look after. Social media, for me, is the last of them worries. I want to look after my children and my wife. She made me aware of it and that was the last time we spoke about it until years later.”
He said: “I had seen my wife had put a post out and that was the first knowledge I had of that.
“I have never discussed anything with my wife and the abuse Mrs Vardy has received is disgusting. It’s not right for a woman to receive that abuse.”
BACK IN BUSINESS: Meg Ryan stars and directs her new film What Happens Later, due out next year (Image: Getty)
She made us laugh and could reduce us to tears with her star-crossed search for love on the big screen. As Hollywood’s queen of the romantic comedy Meg Ryan tugged at our heartstrings and made us all hope she would find happiness in classic hits When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail.
But Hollywood fell out of love with the slender blonde beauty, who blames ageism and stereotyping for her fall from fame. And romance in real life has hardly been kind to her, with a failed marriage to Dennis Quaid, and a series of shattered relationships with heart-breakers including Gladiator star Russell Crowe and rocker John Mellencamp.
Yet now aged 60, Ryan is returning to give love one more chance – at least, on film.
Thirteen years after her last romantic comedy, Serious Moonlight, Ryan is set to star opposite X-Files veteran David Duchovny, 61, in What Happens Later. Shooting is scheduled to take place in Arkansas later this year with a view to a cinema release in 2023. It’s a surprising come-back at an age when romantic leading roles for women are scarce in Hollywood.
Ryan’s shaggy mane and quirky smile first found fame in Tom Cruise’s 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, playing a small but emotionally powerful role as the wife of ill-fated aviator Goose. Its success launched her into When Harry Met Sally in 1989 – her fake orgasm in the diner scene opposite co-star Billy Crystal remains a film classic – and turned her into America’s romcom darling alongside Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock.
She jumped into molten lava for the love of Tom Hanks in Joe Versus The Volcano, locked lips with Kevin Kline in French Kiss, and fell for timetravelling lover Hugh
Jackman in Kate & Leopold. But as Ryan matured, Hollywood’s love affair with her faded. Typecast as the “girl next door” she was robbed of the chance to expand her range in more challenging roles, and then was cruelly judged past her sell-by date.
“The pressure was implicit,” she says. “How you look – there’s so much judgment.”
YES TO SUCCESS: Ryan’s faked orgasm in When Harry Met Sally secured her place as a romantic lead (Image: Castle Rock/Nelson/Columbia / The Kobal Collection)
Appalled by Hollywood’s superficial obsessions, she says: “There are more important conversations than how women look and how they are ageing.”
Ironically, it was Ryan’s beleaguered adventures in real life romance that helped turn Hollywood against her, demolishing her innocent squeaky-clean image.
Romance has simply not been that kind to Meg Ryan away from the cameras.
She fell in love with Dennis Quaid on the set of sci-fi adventure Innerspace in 1987, and they married four years later on St Valentine’s Day. They were Hollywood’s golden couple, appearing on screen together in thriller D.O.A.
But Quaid became jealous as her career soared while his declined. He recalled: “We’d go out on the streets of New York, and it would be like, ‘Meg! Meg!’
And I would have to admit it: I actually did feel like I disappeared.” Then Ryan’s goodie two-shoes persona was irretrievably broken when her affair with co-star Russell Crowe was exposed, after they met on the set of Proof Of Life while she was still married to Quaid in early 2000.
“Russell didn’t break up the marriage,” she insists. “He was definitely there at the end, but it wasn’t his fault.”
Quaid had been cheating on their marriage for some time, she claims.
But it was Ryan who was eviscerated by public opinion for breaking up their supposedly happy home.
Ryan had a relationship with Russell Crowe, left, whilst still married to Dennis Quaid, right (Image: Getty)
Dennis was not faithful to me for a long time, and that was very painful,” she says. “I found out more about that once I was divorced.”
But the backlash against Ryan was ferocious, painting her as a homewrecker and adulteress. “So this is what it feels like to be the Scarlet Woman,” she said. Ryan and Quaid separated in 2000, after having two children, and divorced the following year.
“My marriage was a very unhealthy marriage,” she later told Oprah Winfrey. “I probably should have left it much earlier.
“I was very sad that it came apart in the way it seemed to have. It was never about another man. It was just about what my and Dennis’s relationship couldn’t sustain.”
Ryan was distraught to discover her personal life was treated like just another plot twist in one of her rom-coms. But real life emotions proved more painful. “Divorce is hard,” she says. “Love is hard. All these things were so personal.
“The complexity of a life or a marriage is never going to exist in a headline or a tabloid.”
She eventually broke up with Crowe, admitting: “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.”
After her divorce, Ryan plunged into two films trying to break free of her rom-com straight-jacket: 2003’s psychological thriller In The Cut, and boxing drama Against The Ropes the next year.
When both turned out to be critically mauled box office disappointments, Ryan took a three-year break from Hollywood, which turned against her. “The feeling with
Hollywood was mutual,” she says. “I felt done when they felt done, probably.”
She struggled to find a place for herself in a string of lacklustre movies – who remembers 2008’s My Spy, which went straight to video? – while her love life became a roller coaster ride.
Finally single, Ryan was romantically linked to TV’s Friends star Matthew Perry, and British film producer Graham King, before plunging into a dizzying on-again, off-again relationship with rocker John Mellencamp in 2011. Breaking up in 2016 they reunited the following year, announcing their engagement in 2018.
“John and Meg have had a volatile relationship from the beginning,” said a friend. Noted another: “It’s the same thing every time. He makes her mad, they break up, she misses him, and they eventually start talking again.”
They broke off their engagement and parted, apparently for the last time, in 2019.
With her acting career faltering, Ryan turned in 2015 to directing, with the low-budget historical drama Ithaca.
“I was burned out,” she admits. “I didn’t feel like I knew enough any more about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor.”
Hollywood fell out of love with the slender blonde beauty (Image: Getty)
Ithaca was hardly a smash hit, but Ryan relished directing, and will be behind the camera again with her new movie, What Happens Later, described by producers as an “evolved and nostalgic” take on the romantic comedy, 25 years after her last rom-com hit You’ve Got Mail.
Ryan and Duchovny play two former lovers who years later are stranded together overnight at a snowed-in airport, revisiting their past and contemplating a possible future together.
“This is exactly what audiences everywhere are looking for,” says producer Gabrielle Stewart optimistically, clearly hoping that Ryan’s former legion of rom-com fans will buy into her return.
Ryan hopes to ride a renewed wave of interest in the genre. After a dearth of romcoms, Hollywood has suddenly fallen in love with them again, bringing back vintage stars at an age when Hollywood typically might cast them as grandmothers. Sandra Bullock, aged 57, recently starred in The Lost City opposite Channing Tatum, her first rom-com in 13 years; Julia Roberts, aged 54, is making her first rom-com in 20 years with Ticket To Paradise co-starring George Clooney; and Jennifer Lopez, aged 52, recently romanced Owen Wilson in Marry Me.
But with the world in chaos, war in Ukraine and domestic discontent, will audiences want to see two unnaturally beautiful people of a certain age struggling to find romance?
Meg Ryan is hoping that love, and romcoms, will conquer all.
For 45 years, Jay Blades says he tried his best “to be a macho man”. Raised on an East London council estate by his mother Barbara, the genial host of BBC’s The Repair Shop developed an uncompromising exterior that was intended to keep him safe from the taunts of others. “I was the tough guy who never showed any emotion and dealt with nothing,” admits Jay, now 52.
“I can’t say what she did was bad, because she did the best she could, but Mum’s input was more to do with survival and I didn’t really receive any affection. But although I only remember sunshine growing up on the council estate, I never wanted to show my vulnerability because I was told that would make you a victim.”
Late one evening in April 2015, everything changed.
Faced with the breakdown of his marriage and following a collapse in funding for his furniture restoration charity for disadvantaged young people, Jay left his home in High Wycombe, Bucks, and drove into the darkness, looking for a way out.
“I was ready to drive into a bridge, but every bridge on the M40 had a safety barrier around it. I was so naïve,” he tells me.
In the grip of a nervous breakdown and unable to make rational decisions, he eventually pulled off at a random slip road a hundred miles from home and parked in a near-deserted car park on a small industrial estate. It was there, for the next week, numb and confused, that Jay remained inside the security of his car.
“I can’t remember what I did but I think I just sat in my car. Doing nothing. Feeling nothing. Days and nights came and went.”
Looking in the rear-view mirror about five days later, he saw clear evidence he needed to check into a hotel for a shower and a square meal. “I’d lost a stone since I’d fled HighWycombe,” he recalls. Meanwhile his wife Jade, who is the mother of his daughter Zola, had reported Jay as a missing person.As he drove into the centre of the city, number plate recognition technology picked up his car details. A policeman and a psychiatric nurse made their way to the hotel with a view to possible medical intervention.
WAITING FOR THE NEXT HEIRLOOM: Jay Blades in front of The Repair Shop (Image: Getty)
“They wanted to section me, as a danger to myself,” says Jay.
It was then that Gerald Bailey, a businessman who had bought a number of restored items of furniture from Jay’s charity, knocked on the door at the hotel where Jay was being assessed.
He had been contacted by Jade as soon as the police told her Jay had been found. He was the only person she knew in Wolverhampton, and Bailey, the owner of clothing brands Diffusion and G-Star, was about to give Jay the second chance that would turn his own life around. “When Gerald found me and told the police that he’d look after me, I broke down in his car and I cried in front of him,” Jay says.
“I had never cried in front of a man before – and certainly not another black man. That was the rebirth of me. He’s a stern businessman, and I’m crying and smelling and I haven’t washed in a week, and I’m looking at him through my snot and tears, and he says: ‘We’re going to my office.’
“I say, ‘Don’t you see I’m crying?’ and he was very matter of fact. He sorted me out with a job, sent me to live with his mother and stepfather, and that’s why he’s classified as my brother.The love he has for me is amazing.”
In his inspirational new memoir Making It, Jay tells how his fortunes were transformed a few months later when TV producers at the BBC saw a short film about his charity and offered him a job presenting Money For Nothing, in 2017, and then The Repair Shop.
Despite his success, Jay is still living in a two-bedroom coach house behind Gerald’s Georgian home. Last December he got engaged to his girlfriend Lisa-Marie Zbozen, and last week he received the MBE from Prince Charles for services to craft.
Jay insists: “What people like me need is not a father figure, but a role model. I was 45, not a teenager, but I’d never had that – I’d never had that level of silent support and it’s almost like I didn’t realise I needed it until I found it.”
He seems particularly taken with the fact that his saviour has never capitalised on seeing him at such a low ebb. You sense his surprise that he has not been exploited.
“Gerald never took the mickey out of me,” says Jay, who didn’t know his father, but believes he may have at least 26 children in different countries. “And he never has to this day. Now I can see that there is strength in being vulnerable, and now I am more vocal about showing my vulnerability.
“And that’s why women are always stronger than men. You have to go through something to come out the other side, and we need to learn a lot more from ladies.” At this point, Jay halts proceedings and cheerfully calls me “the Big Mac of interviewers”.
“It’s three questions coming at me at once,” he enthuses of our conversation.
We’ve also been talking about his dyslexia, which means at the age of 31 – when he started a degree in criminology – Jay was found to have a reading age of just 11.
He says: “My reading skills are improving but I’m still using coping strategies. I can read signs and I can work things out.”
Jay received his MBE from Prince Charles last week (Image: Getty)
He is midway through a course to learn to read better, a journey that was the subject of a recent BBC documentary watched by 3.7 million people.
Jay says: “It’s had a massive impact but I didn’t realise that dyslexia affects eight million people in the UK until I made the film.
It’s easy to hide it in the real world – if I had to fill in a form, I’d get someone to help me.”
Before he discovered the creativity of furniture restoration,
Jay worked on building sites in his late 20s. It was then that he started volunteering with a charity working with young people at risk, found he had an affinity with the participants and began to mentor them.
“A lot of the other mentors were white, middle class and from privileged backgrounds,” he says. “I was different. I knew the hard life they were talking about because I had lived it.” That flicker of recognition in their eyes, he says, helped him connect naturally with them.
“The only thing I really had going for me was my ability to talk and relate to underprivileged kids,” he adds.
While studying for his degree at Buckinghamshire New University – with the support of a scribe for exams and speech recognition software – he began working with Oxfordshire police’s independent race relations advisory panel.
Soon, this had crystallised into the Street Dreams project, the workshops for young people that he ran with Jade in a bid to lower racial tensions on the streets. They set up football and boxing clubs in inner-city estates in a bid to get different communities talking to each other; even an amateur radio station.
“And it worked,” he says. “As the understanding between the two communities grew, the tensions dissipated and the conflicts fell away.
“We hadn’t waved a magic wand. We had just gone there and done what nobody had ever done to these people before. We listened to them.”
He says that Street Dreams showed him some of the very worst aspects of modern society every day. But he continued to believe he could make a difference.
Then, shortly after his 40th birthday in February 2010, everything began to unravel. The council funding for the youth clubs they were running began to dry up.
It was Jade, who had a background in textiles, who came up with the couple’s plan B: teaching young people to renovate old furniture.
Jay says: “I stuck four fence posts in the lawn in our back garden, and chucked a tarpaulin over them to make a primitive work space.”
Their new project was named Out Of The Dark – a reference to the light they were bringing into people’s lives, as well as to the old pieces of furniture being renovated.
When the first few kids came to their tarpaulin workshop, Jay declared: “I’m going to show you how to make money from nothing.” Restorers were on hand to teach the sort of restoration techniques now familiar from The Repair Shop.
“I realised that furniture restoration was a metaphor for the lives of the young people we were helping,” he says.
And it’s the same, he suggests, with his much-loved TV show, where people bring in treasured family heirlooms for restoration.
As he told Prince Charles at Windsor Castle recently: “It’s all about sustainability, it’s all about teaching the next generation.”
Making It by Jay Blades (Pan Macmillan, £9.99) is out now. For free UK P&P on orders over £12.99, visit www.expressbookshop.com or call Express Bookshop on 020 3176 3832.
John Humphrys reveals ‘terrible thing’ he did as young reporter
The veteran broadcaster appeared on Alan Titchmarsh’s ‘Love Your Weekend’ today, alongside actress Sarah Parish. Over the course of the programme, viewers will see Manor Farm’s first-ever Mounted Games with young riders from the Royal Windsor show. Horticulturalist David Domoney showcases the very best in garden pollinators, and the team looks at why British rose wine has never been more popular.
Humphrys will likely be full of stories given his lengthy career with the BBC as a reporter and presenter.
He joined the BBC in 1966 as a reporter based in Liverpool, a year later becoming the Northern Industrial Correspondent.
The Welshman later covered the troubles in Northern Ireland before becoming a foreign correspondent with the India-Pakistan war among his first assignments abroad.
Later, he moved to the US to open the BBC’s news bureau in Washington, becoming the broadcaster’s first television correspondent in the US ahed 28.
John Humphrys: The veteran broadcaster once admitted to feeling ‘shame’ during his early career (Image: GETTY)
BBC: He first started at the BBC in 1966 (Image: GETTY)
In 1981 he became the main presenter of the BBC’s Nine O’Clock, and along with John Simpson, changed the way the corporation reported its news, as the presenters also became involved in the process of preparing the broadcast.
In 2008, well into his most famous stint at the broadcaster as a Today programme presenter, Humphrys appeared on an episode of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
There, he told then-presenter Kirsty Young about how his behaviour during his Nine O’Clock News role made him feel “slightly ashamed”.
Young asked him whether it was a “desire to keep your job or a desire to give the other man a bloody nose” which had made him so ambitious and competitive throughout his career — he was once described as a “rottweiler”.
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Today Programme: Humphrys and Sue MacGregor for Today in 1986 (Image: GETTY)
Laughing, he said: “It’s very difficult to separate those two, but there’s certainly a bit of that in me.
“I do remember once being based in Salisbury, Rhodesia as it was [now Harare, Zimbabwe] and as I was going on holiday, they sent out another reporter to take over from me.
“I can remember rushing around, for weeks, hoovering up every story I could find so that when this poor chap arrived there were already seven Humphrys films waiting to be transmitted on the Nine O’Clock news.
“It was a wicked, terrible thing to do and I feel only slightly ashamed.”
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History: Humphrys, right, was the BBC’s first television reporter based in the US (Image: GETTY)
Tenacity: Young said Humphrys clearly had the tenacity to become a journalist from early on (Image: GETTY)
Young replied by saying it was tenacity that makes a good journalist, especially when reporting on foreign affairs.
He said: “It is highly competitive and you can’t come second, that’s absolutely right. But if you are not in the right place at the right time then that’s it – it’s luck, mostly luck!”
Humphrys said he had often been called away from a family holiday after just one and a half days off work.
Later, he hinted that he was still affected by his childhood days growing up in Wales, after saying that no one gets over the things that happened in their younger years.
End of an era: Humphrys left Today in 2019 after 32 years at its helm (Image: GETTY)
Growing up in a large family of seven in a working class area of Cardiff, he said “we just didn’t have much money”.
He added: “The height of wealth was a bowl of fruit on somebody’s table when there was nobody ill in the house. That was the mark of inordinate riches.”
His father was self-employed, which meant the family would often run out of money if there was no work.
Humphrys said: “My father didn’t like authority of any sort. That’s what I got from him, I suppose.”
Poverty: He said growing up in ‘relative poverty’ had left him with a determination to face life (Image: GETTY)
His parents helped him in his studies so he was able to become a pupil at Cardiff High School, which was then a grammar school.
He complained about all the children being too middle class, telling Young: “I hated it, absolutely hated it. Partly the chip on the shoulder bit but also because I was average, and I didn’t have any real social network there. I always felt that I didn’t quite fit in.”
He later agreed with Young that the “relative poverty” he faced in his youth left him with a determination that it “wasn’t ever going to be like that for me”.
This had stuck with him for his entire life, adding that he was still conscious of money because waste is a matter of “morality” not practically.
Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs at 10am on ITV One.
Jim Davidson pays tribute to Jethro at funeral in Truro
As well as vintage footage of much-loved comics – Freddie Starr, Bob Monkhouse, Jethro – Ustreme produces its own shows including new political series Left, Right & Centre with comedians from all viewpoints debating the issues of the day.
Five-times-married Jim, 68 – a self-made millionaire who grew up on a run-down council estate in south east London – was one of the faces of Saturday night TV, hosting Big Break and The Generation Game, until he was “cancelled” by BBC bosses in the Noughties.
His arrest by Operation Yewtree detectives in 2012 cost him an estimated £1million worth of lost earnings, but eight months later all charges were dropped, Jim entered the Celebrity Big Brother house and won the series with the biggest vote in the show’s history.
Here the controversial star hits back at detractors. Is he really guilty as charged?
The controversial star hits back at detractors (Image: Getty)
Are you a racist?
“No, I am not. It would be difficult to be racist growing up in southeast London. These claims come from the distant past because of my Chalky character. I invented Chalky to make people laugh, not to cause hatred. I based him on Georgie Campbell who I went to school with in Kidbrooke.
“Was Chalky racist because I did a West Indian accent? TV was full of funny accents in the 70s and 80s – ’Allo ’Allo!, Mind Your Language. It wasn’t deemed offensive. It was okay then. Doing accents was part of comedy.
“I think we’re a tolerant country and we’re doing quite well with racism, but we need a level playing field. I just read in the paper about a bloke wanted in connection with a crime who was 5ft 7 and white – they wouldn’t state his race if he was a black bloke. That’s unbalanced.”
So why criticise Black Lives Matter, leading to your clash with Diversity’s Ashley Banjo, below, on ITV last year?
“I spoke out against people attacking Churchill’s statue. I think Churchill did a pretty good job defeating Hitler. But because of that I got cancelled by the snowflakes running London theatres I’d been playing for forty years, so I was pressured to do Ashley’s show by my agents after Ashley’s team asked me on.
“I knew I’d be set up, but I didn’t realise how badly they’d set me up. In the end I set myself up by storming off the set and going through the wrong door.
“Ashley isn’t a good interviewer. He thinks anyone who disagrees with him is racist. There’s no room for debate. People like him fuel the bigots. He’s not bringing people together, he’s more about divisiveness than Diversity – divisive-ty.”
Jim Davidson storms out of interview with Ashley Banjo
Are you right-wing?
“I am a Conservative, yes, but my comedy isn’t about politics, it’s about telling the truth.
“The BBC look at comedy commissioning in terms of box-ticking. They are so obsessed with minorities they forget the majority. Nish Kumar just isn’t funny and that’s the first requisite of being a comedian – make people laugh. It’s not a university lecture.
“Comedy shouldn’t be about a nod and a wry grin, it should be about splitting your sides, and laughing your heads off.
“There’s no balance in TV comedy now. Everyone has to be left-wing. I’ve got fourteen comedians on the shows I’m filming today. It’s called Left Right & Centre, it’s like Question Time but with jokes and everyone gets a shout.
“I shot the pilot 20 years ago with Mo Mowlam in the chair. We had Jethro, Stephen K Amos and Bradley Walsh on that – now he’s on TV more times than the test card.
“People are sick of ‘woke’ and fed up with mad things like women being described as ‘birthing people’ instead of mothers. It insults women.”
‘It would be difficult to be racist growing up in south east London’ (Image: Getty)
Why did the BBC cancel you?
“BBC executives seemed to resent the fact that someone had signed me. It was a case of ‘How dare this working-class bloke came on here and get paid and then have a go at Tony Blair on stage? We can’t allow this sort of thing.’
“In the end, they gave me £1million and said go away and don’t tell anyone. It was a political move.
“I was having such a good time there, but there were a few frowns about the way I and John Virgo rehearsed, we used to raunch up the rehearsals. They didn’t like that.
“But I had a real brush with cancel culture with Operation Yewtree in 2012. People can have their lives wrecked by accusations alone.”
What about the charge that you’re sexist?
“I own up to that. I was going to be an MP until they stopped them pinching women’s a***s. No wonder they’re watching porn in the Commons. I’ve put my tractor up for sale. I’ve had it washed out but it wasn’t enough.
“Why didn’t the Tory women have a word with [Neil Parish] directly? They must have known that by grassing him up there’d be a by-election. I hope Labour win, it’ll teach them a lesson.
“Now they’re bringing in more women. That’s like the fire brigade pumping petrol onto a fire. Make MPs less attractive that’s the answer. I doubt Ann Widdecombe’s ever had her a*** pinched.”
Jim in 1976 (Image: Getty)
What do you think of other new channels that aren’t woke?
“My favourite is GB News. Mainstream TV news and current affairs are full of left-wing and bonkers people. I like Dan Wootton who shoots from the hip and tells it like it is.
“I think people are fed up with wokeness and woke comedy. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is closing early. They’re blaming it on the pandemic, but maybe people weren’t happy with it having a gay prince. Maybe that’s something to do with it.”
Is your kind of comedy old-fashioned?
“No, it’s funny. There’s a huge hole in the market for comedy that doesn’t do box-ticking. Our slogan is ‘laugh like you used to’. It’s comedy as people remember it and if you’re too young to remember it you soon get to like it.
“We treat our subscribers like a club. We got 10,000 in the first eighteen months. We’ve got an app coming for phones and then we’ll be on smart TVs.
“We’re a niche service – I have a niche, and a nephew – but we’re punching above our weight. And we’re cheap, just £3.99 + VAT a month. If you want a taste of it, catch me doing my news round-ups on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Or the specials – Freddie Starr, Jethro, all the greats.”
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You were close to Baroness Thatcher, how do you rate Boris?
“He’s doing all right. He’s made mistakes. But the government is swamped by young civil servants who all think the same, all these unelected snowflakes running the show.
“The trouble with Boris is he wants to be liked. The other trouble is he’s too left-wing, too keen to spend our money. He’s the best left-wing leader the country has ever had. Furloughing was almost Communism.”
What about reports of you walking off stage?
“Only if the sound has packed up, never for heckles. I’m not worried by hecklers. But when the PA system is naff or there’s bad lighting, I won’t do it. I drove 250miles to Devon and the place had no PA and a mic your granny used to have. The two women running said they’d get a proper PA in, but then I sat in the car park and watched them turning people away.
“It was political. They didn’t want me because they didn’t like my politics.
“I’m all for free speech. Let’s have more comedy on TV and fewer restrictions. Let people turn off if they don’t want it.”