Ryan graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 2002. His first professional role was Gloucester in Declan Donnellan's production of King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company Academy, for which he was commended at the National Theatre Ian Charleson Awards. He went on to play many leading roles in the West End, and in national and international tours.

 

After several years he moved into screen work, taking regular guest leads on British television, and working with acclaimed filmakers such as Mike Figgis, Stephen Poliakoff and Joe Wright.