Why Meg Ryan is Actually a Creepy Stalker in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’

When it comes to romantic comedies, more specifically classic romcoms, Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle tops or at least features in every list. Think about it: the famous 90s onscreen couple Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks, a love story that starts when Ryan hears Hank talk about love over the radio, and a quest across cities to find him, which ends with their first meeting at the top of Empire State Building — isn’t that great?

Think again. 

A love story that begins when Ryan hears Hank talk on the radio? A quest that involves flouting of several journalistic and decent human ethics to find a man? And meeting a stranger at the top of the Empire State Building and professing love for them? 

Meg Ryan in short hair at a press conference in 2003.
Meg Ryan | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Meg Ryan’s actions in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ are that of a stalker 

Ryan plays the role of a Baltimore Sun reporter Annie Reed in the movie. She is engaged to Walter Jackson, played by Bill Pullman. Let’s start at the beginning, right at the outset, viewers know that Annie is not happy in her engagement with Walter. Though completely in love with Annie, Walter’s peculiar characteristics establish him as the wrong guy for Annie. 

When Annie listens to Sam, a widower — played by Tom Hanks — talk about missing his wife and his idea of love, she instantly feels a connection with him. Along with many women around the country, she also decides to write him a letter — which can also be considered harmless. However, in the letter, she asks him to meet her at the top of The Empire State Building on Valentine’s day. 

From there begins a string of several stalker-like activities. She uses her work resources to track down Sam in Seattle and then takes an assignment in the city to stalk Sam and his son, Jonah. When Sam sees her in Seattle and is immediately smitten, he doesn’t realize that Annie is not there by coincidence.

Their meeting at the Empire State Building is not romantic

Not just does Annie break up with Walter on Valentine’s Day. She does it while they are in New York, just minutes before she heads to the Empire State Building to, apparently, meet the love of her life —  for the very first time. 

In that meeting, Sam should have realized that Annie is not in love, but obsessed with him. He recognizes her from Seattle yet he never questions what she was doing there. Her stalker behavior aside, New York is essentially the first time that they meet each other. While the idea of a grand gesture sounds romantic, the idea of meeting someone you don’t know at the top of one of New York’s tallest buildings — with a kid involved — is quite frightening.


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Still, Sleepless in Seattle remains a classic 

Even though the movie could have easily been a thriller or worse, a horror movie, there are things to like about the movie. Even while in different cities, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have undeniable chemistry. Ryan and Hanks pull off their roles with an effortless charm that you can’t help but fall for. 

Ryan’s portrayal of Annie, given all her questionable actions, still possesses an innocence that, quite honestly is scary, but only comes across as hopelessly romantic. The movie also has a  beautiful soundtrack. Despite its fallacies, the movie is also well-written.

The movie is set up as a grand romantic journey. Two people, searching for love end up finding each other in an unlikely manner. For that reason, one can still enjoy the film if they overlook the obvious.