NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hollywood actressMegRyangoes behind the camera for her directorial debut "Ithaca," a World War II drama for which she said she used her maternal instincts in telling the story.

The movie, based on William Saroyan's novel "The Human Comedy," follows a teenager who wants to help his widowed mother financially by getting a job as a messenger. He soon gets some tough lessons in life as he delivers messages to families who have lost loved ones in the war.

"I felt like it really is, in its deepest part of DNA, a story that I felt should be told from a maternal point of view,"Ryansaid in an interview.

"And I felt like it was simple ... it's a simple narrative about complicated things."


The "When Harry Met Sally" actress, who also stars in the film, said she was surprised how much she liked directing.

"The intimacy you end up having with every single thing in a movie when you're directing it ... makes you love it," she said.

"The most fierce I ever am is as a mum and, it turns out, as a director, trying to protect the artists who've come to help me out."

Tom Hanks, with whomRyanstarred in "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail," has a small role in the movie. "He doesn't need much directing," she said.

"Ithaca" is released in the United States on Friday.

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