America’s sweetheart? Actress Meg Ryan claims she never wanted that title.

Speaking in a one-on-one conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow at her In Goop Health conference in Culver City, California, Ryan claimed the spotlight generated by her Sleepless in Seattle performance was overwhelming and caused her to retreat from show business after a few more film roles.

“You know, I never wanted to be an actress,” Ryan said. “The whole idea of being a famous person, the whole thing, I felt like a witness to. I didn’t feel exactly in it. And I think that was a really good thing. Because I felt like a student of it in a way, that I was watching it (unfold) in an anthropological way.”

Ryan told Paltrow, “When you get labeled anything, like America’s Sweetheart – I didn’t even know what that meant. It doesn’t necessarily imply that you’re smart or sexual or complicated or anything. It’s a label. And what can a label do but guess at you?”

Although Ryan appeared in such films as 1998’s City of Angels and 2000’s Proof of Life, she called that period, “a really reactive time. Which is kind of why I stepped away about 10 years ago.”