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The Essentials: 'What Happens Later' star Meg Ryan shares her favorite rom-coms

Meg Ryan shares her rom-com favorites for USA TODAY's The Essentials.
Meg Ryan shares her rom-com favorites for USA TODAY's The Essentials.

In a new series, USA TODAY’s The Essentials, celebrities share what fuels their lives. We're kicking off with Meg Ryan, Usher, Dove Cameron, Gerry Turner and Ariana DeBose.

Meg Ryan, the queen of rom-coms, is back this fall with "What Happens Later," an impossibly charming movie about a former couple who run into each other 25 years later in their 50s. A storm strands Willa (Ryan) and William (David Duchovny) in an airport and they compare the dreams they once shared and then lost.

While she's been in more than a dozen movies, Ryan is perhaps best known for her quirky and adorable characters in seminal Nora Ephron movies "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail," as well as Rob Reiner's "When Harry Met Sally."

Ryan, 61, says love is endlessly interesting – at any age.

"How do your views of love and life change in that time? In some ways radically and in some ways not at all," she says. "I didn't have that perspective at all when I was 20, so I needed all this time to have gone by to notice that there's naïveté and innocence involved as well. Maybe you learn that you don't want to be in that again, or maybe you don't learn at all, maybe (you) just go right for it again."

She shares her essentials:

Movies that influenced Meg Ryan

Ryan loves movies from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, including any with Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, or Jimmy Stewart. She says she can spend entire afternoons or evenings watching them.

Meg Ryan, daughter Daisy True watch this classic rom-com together

Ryan's daughter, Daisy True, is now in college. But one of their favorite things to do is watch movies together. One of their favorites: "The Philadelphia Story," a rom-com made in 1940 based on the play of the same name, starring Cary Grant, Hepburn and Stewart.

"She's with girls (in college) who haven't seen 'Philadelphia Story' and (I) can't get over that because it was like the staple of her growing up," Ryan says.

INTERVIEW: Meg Ryan on love, aging and returning to rom-coms: 'It doesn't stop in your 20s'

Meg Ryan's favorite beach read

This might be cheating a little, but she did love reading it on the beach recently: "Miss Subways," written by her co-star Duchovny. He gave her the book before they filmed "What Happens Later," and the two joke that a photo taken by the paparazzi of her reading it at the beach single-handedly bumped sales for the book.

The book, no surprise, is a romantic comedy based on an Irish legend.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ALL THE ESSENTIALS:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Meg Ryan movie essentials: The rom-com queen's faves and beach read