Ryan is the youngest of four children. His father, Jim, was a Vancouver food wholesaler. His mother, Tammy, was a retail-store saleswoman. Between 1991-93, Ryan taped "Hillside" (1990) (aka "Fifteen"), a cheesy Nickleodeon series, in Florida, with many other Canadian actors. After the series ended, he returned to Vancouver where he played in a series of forgettable TV movies. He did small roles in Glenn Close's Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995) (TV) and CBS's update of _In Cold Blood (1996) (TV)_ . But his run of luck had led him to decide to quit acting.
However, a friend convinced Reynolds to move to Los Angeles, and after a few months, he landed the role of Berg in "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (1998). The show was reviled by critics and seemed desperate for any type of ratings success. The show became a minor success and has led to additional film roles for Ryan, most notably in the last-ever MGM film, a remake of The Amityville Horror (2005).