Meg Ryan at Edinburgh Film Festival

Meg Ryan on the red carpet in Fountainbridge
Meg Ryan on the red carpet in Fountainbridge
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Hollywood star Meg Ryan says the “single-minded focus” needed to be a director was the hardest part about getting behind the camera for her latest movie – as she made an appearance in the Capital.

Ryan – well-known for her on-screen achievements in the likes of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle – has brought her directorial debut Ithaca to the Edinburgh International Film Festival for its UK premiere.

Taking to the red carpet at the city’s Cineworld venue at Fountainbridge, she said she would “absolutely” consider directing again.

But asked about the biggest challenge she faced in the job, she said: “The kind of single-minded focus.

“When you act in a film you’re there for three, four months tops.

“This was a good long 18 months of concentrating on one thing.

“And I think the biggest surprise was not what I didn’t know about directing, but what I did, just by osmosis from being on a film set, acting on a set.”

The film, an adaptation of William Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy, is a coming-of-age tale.

Described as an elegant Second World War story, it follows 14-year-old Homer (played by Alex Neustaedter) as he delivers telegrams in the early 1940s, with his life changing as he starts delivering bad news.

“The story is very moving to me,” said Ryan.

“It’s a story that the author dedicated to his mom. I felt like it was a story a mother could tell and I could bring a perspective to it that would fit the content.”

The film also features a small role for Tom Hanks, something which saw Ryan reunited on set with her co-star in 90s’ hits Sleepless and You’ve Got Mail.

“He’s so dear and fun,” said Ryan, who also takes an on-screen role in Ithaca. I noticed, taking the film around the world, he is like a goodwill machine.

“People just love to talk to him and talk about him and he did me a great big favour by being in the film.”

The Edinburgh International Film Festival opened last Wednesday with a special screening of a new period drama starring city-born screen legend and James Bond great Sir Sean Connery’s son.

Tommy’s Honour, about the godfather of golf”, brought the curtain up on the 70th anniversary of the festival.

Award-winning Scottish actor Peter Mullan and rising home-grown star Jack Lowden portray St Andrews-born Old Tom Morris – widely regarded as the founding father of the sport – and his son Tommy, who went on to match his Open championship-winning achievements in the 19th century, before dying tragically at the age of just 24.

Other stars at this year’s festival have included ex and the City favourite Kim Cattrall, leading British actresses Sadie Frost and Joanne Froggatt and Scots stars Dougray Scott, Martin Compston, Brian Cox, James Cosmo and Shauna Macdonald.

newsen@edinburghnews.com