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DIRECTOR’S CUT Meg Ryan’s new flick, "Ithaca," hits theaters Sept. 9.

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The Evolution of Meg

By Carita Rizzo

Photography by Christophe Meimoon

08.25.16

Actress Meg Ryan returns to film as the director and star of a new war drama, "Ithaca."

After establishing herself as one of the most memorable actresses in iconic rom-coms like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, one might expect Meg Ryan’s directorial debut to be light fare. One would be wrong. Ryan transitions behind the camera with Ithaca—a moving piece about the impact of war on a young bicycle messenger on the homefront—in which Ryan stars as the boy’s widowed mother. Although her creation is heavier than the breezy films that put Ryan on the map, the story was one that spoke to her core. “There is this moment as a mom when you just think, ‘Oh, God, I can’t protect my kid from everything.’ Some lessons will be too harsh,” she says. “I wanted to tell a story that resonates, and the story of this adolescent boy who wants to protect the people that he loves from harm is certainly very resonant.”

Once on set, Ryan was thrilled to find that her new role was a natural fit. “I assumed that I wasn’t going to be an expert in any way, but by osmosis, when you’re on movie sets for as long as I’ve been, you garner things. I had so many more opinions and so many ideas than I thought I would,” she says, with that familiar peal of laughter. “The only other thing I’ve been this fierce about is being a mom. When you’re on a movie set, you just want to protect your fellow artists so much, and that same maternal, protective muscle gets flexed.” Among those who helped Ryan bring the project to life is a familiar face: Long-time friend and frequent co-star Tom Hanks produced the film and makes an appearance as Ryan’s character’s husband. “At the end of his day [on set], Tom pulled the crew around him and said, ‘Thank you so much for helping my friend, Meg,’” says Ryan, clearly touched by the gesture. “He couldn’t be more adorable.”

As her career evolution has taken her from the silver screen to behind the scenes, Ryan dismisses the idea that actors aren’t allowed to explore multiple roles. “I think the days of not being a hyphenate are over,” she states. “I don’t feel resistance. I just feel like if you can imagine it, you can do it.”

RYAN'S HOTS

Bread, a sensible shoe, a man in a suit, a nice uni-ball Signo #207 pen

RYAN'S NOTS

Dill, stupidity, iPhone updates, packing