Meg Ryan screens her directorial debut at Geena Davis’ film festival


That ^^ is Meg Ryan looking gorgeous during Paris fashion week. Meg has largely scaled back her movie career since her It Girl status in the 80s and 90s. Further reinventing herself, Meg directed her first film, Ithaca, which just screened at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival last Friday. In addition to directing the film, Meg stars as Mrs. Macauley alongside repeat co-star Tom Hanks, her son Jack Quaid and Sam Shepard.

After starring in nearly 40 movies, Meg Ryan recently added a new title to her résumé: director.

“It’s given me a place at the table,” the 54-year-old said to an audience Friday night at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival after a screening of her directorial debut, Ithaca. “It was a very hard thing to do and I can’t believe I did it, honestly.”

In the movie based on William Saroyan’s 1943 novel, The Human Comedy, Ryan also stars as Mrs. Macauley, a widowed mother of four children. (Tom Hanks, her Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail costar portrays her husband.) When her oldest son — played by Ryan’s real-life son, Jack Quaid — goes off to fight in WWII, leaving behind she and three younger siblings, it’s her 14-year-old son, Homer (Alex Neustaedter), who becomes the man of the family. Going to work as a bicycle telegraph messenger, he “delivers messages of love, hope, pain and death to the good people of Ithaca, but soon must grapple with a message that will change him forever,” according to the movie’s description.

“I love that what [Homer] wanted was this impossible thing, to keep everyone he loved safe,” she explained, “[to] keep the Angel of Death away from Ithaca. I thought that was such a dear and very emotional through-line and motivation for a protagonist.”

Ryan also found the story’s value-of-innocence theme applying to her own life. “When I read it I was getting divorced at the time,” she reveals. “So [I had] that feeling of, how do you keep your kids safe? The world is harsh, you know? Some lessons are going to be too hard. And I felt like the book had a lot of wisdom in it. I love that often adults are very confounded by these big questions of, why?”

[From EW]

With Jack and Tom Hanks involved, it feels like a family affair. Plus, John Mellencamp did all the music for the movie, of which Meg speaks quite glowingly. Considering she says she read and related to the book The Human Comedy, upon which Ithaca is based, during her divorce from Dennis Quaid, this movie must have been a real labor of love for her. A rushed labor; Meg said they filmed the entire film, which premiered at the Middleburg Film Festival last October, in just 23 days. Unfortunately that may show in the results as it’s received poor reviews.

The Bentonville Film Festival was co-founded by Geena Davis and Trevor Drinkwater “to champion women and diverse voices in media.” Geena’s dedication to address the lack of quality female representation in the media has been discussed a few times on this site before; it’s gratifying to see the female driven films coming out of her festival being so celebrated. Meg described Ithaca as, “without a doubt, a movie told from a mother’s point of view,” which, she says, is why the festival was so interested in it. For those who don’t know, The Human Comedy was a movie starring Mickey Rooney first and the author, William Saroyan, adapted his own screenplay into the book, all based on his own experiences. Although the original story is a young boy’s perspective, I can see how the mother’s perspective could be pulled forward for the narrative.

Photo credit: WENN and Getty Images

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20 Responses to “Meg Ryan screens her directorial debut at Geena Davis’ film festival”

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  1. Alix says:

    In that top photo she looks like Jane Fonda, all lifted and hoisted in the face. Yikes.

  2. SusanneToo says:

    Good for her. And her face is looking better than it did a few years ago.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I wish her well and hope the movie is a success. It sounds interesting. I wouldn’t say that she had largely scaled back her own movie career, though. We all know what happened.

    • jugil1 says:

      Thank you for saying that. Exactly what I was thinking…..

    • Shaley says:

      Uhm, no, that was only part of it, she def also took time of to take care of her kids esp her daughter, plus she is never gonna do roles she doesnt care about. She is not addicted to fame or acting kike so many of the others.nGood for her for trying something new! And she was right in her interview with Porter mag: way too many conversations about how people look, and there is too much hate online.

  4. Luca76 says:

    Good on her. I will always have a soft spot for her. She was Betsy Andropolous after all.😀

  5. Jayna says:

    I just saw a little indie on Netflix directed by a woman, her debut as a director, and the screenplay written by a woman. It’s called Echo Park. Meryl Streep’s daughter was in it, Mamie. I kept thinking who is that guy playing the lead? He seemed familiar.. I loved him in the part. He was Ellen’s old DJ, Tony Okungbowa. He actually lives in Echo Park and came up with the storyline for the movie, taking some parts from his life or people that live in Echo Park, and hired someone to write the screenplay. He also produced it. It’s a sweet little movie. So that’s my shoutout to promote an indie movie directed by a woman, Amanda Marsalis, who lives in Echo Park also.

    Good for Meg. Her face does look like it’s settled a bit. I’ll check her movie out. I love that Tom Hanks is in it. I loved them in movies together.. How great that Geena Davis does this type of film festival. That’s really admirable.

    Meg looks fantastic in that top photo, the dress, the shoes, the hair, the sunglasses. Perfection.

  6. lisa2 says:

    I think it is fantastic that Gena and company started this film festival.. As she said other people other than “Robert” can do so.. And she said that the festival winner would get distribution deals.. Which is fantastic. Gena is such a intelligent woman and I love how proactive she is.

  7. spurc says:

    I live just outside Bentonville, and I wondered if the “BFF” would pop up on here, happy to see that it did.

    I wish I’d been for to make to the films! If I had a decent childcare option I would have. The kids and I did wander around downtown and took advantage of all the booths for different products that they were giving away, lol, the atmosphere was very fun and laid back.

  8. noway says:

    She looks so much better than any of the previous pictures of her, not quite natural, but a million times better. Good for her hope the movie and the new direction goes well for her. Hollywood is just so cruel to actresses and, she was the poster girl for a while on the dangers of trying to keep looking young. Glad to see a change for the better.

  9. CharlotteCharlotte says:

    She is looking fabulous. And I love her dresses. It’s nice to see her again.

    I am so impressed at people who continue to challenge themselves and do things they find scary, even as they reach ages that were previously considered “past it”. My own dad completely changed his life twice when he was well past Meg’s age, even.

  10. lucy2 says:

    Good for her for directing and jumping back into it. Even if the reviews for this one aren’t great, I hope she sticks with it.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    She looks better than she has in years. Geena and Nia look great, too.

    What possessed Kimberly Williams to wear orange? And shapeless orange without a bra?

  12. megan says:

    Big Meg Ryan fan! She looks wonderful in the first picture. In the other 2….meh. She wears such ugly shoes – but maybe at her age and stage in life, she doesn’t care. I get wearing comfy shoes…but some of hers are scary looking.

  13. Betsy says:

    Good on her!

  14. Taxi says:

    Good for her! I always liked her movies. Btw, son Jack is in the HBO series, Vinyl, playing a musician along with James Jagger.