Saoirse in Wonderland
Irish actress and Oscar Nominee Saoirse Ronan may only be fifteen, but she has the world at her feet. She talks to KISS about splitting her time between Carlow and Hollywood, school and her plans for the future.
Here’s a new interview with photoshoot that Soirse did for LA Times.
2009 : Session 06 (LA Times)
Don’t call her the new it girl. She’ll fidget with her sleeves; the pressure makes her a bit squeamish. The new lit girl? She’s OK with that.
Saoirse (pronounced SIR-sha) Ronan burst onto the scene at 13 with her Academy Award-nominated performance in the cinematic adaptation of Ian McEwan’s ” Atonement.” She played Briony in the period drama — a child who meddles in her sister’s love affair, causing devastating results — and held her own opposite the film’s lead actors, Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.
Her latest film, “The Lovely Bones,” an adaptation of the bestselling book by Alice Sebold and directed by Peter Jackson, hits theaters Friday.
“I’m a bit of a bookworm, aren’t I?” said Ronan, now 15, before taking a sip of orange juice at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel one recent morning. In person, she comes across much more measured and mature than her age suggests; poised and thoughtful with her answers, but retaining her teen sensibility — giggling when she’s “flummoxed” and sitting cross-legged in her chair.
In “Lovely Bones,” Ronan plays 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who — early on in the story — is raped and murdered by her neighbor on her way home from school in 1973. She narrates the tragic story from the “in-between,” a place similar to purgatory, as her family copes with the tragedy and her murderer roams free.
“She was only 13 years old when we filmed,” said costar Stanley Tucci, who plays the neighbor George Harvey. “How someone acquires that kind of maturity as an actress at such a young age is remarkable. I can’t imagine it. She handles herself as well as any seasoned actor. I wouldn’t even be able to finish a sentence at her age. She’s a real actress. Bottom line. And she is Susie Salmon. No one else could play her.”
It was a role Ronan and her family were hesitant to accept because of the rape and murder content. But after meeting with Jackson, their hesitation eased.
“She’s just amazing on-screen,” Jackson said. “Just brilliant. I tend to not work with big stars for the key roles in most of my films. What’s appealing to me as a filmmaker is that audiences don’t bring a preconceived notion to the film of who this person is. They’re more likely to believe in Susie Salmon if they’re not so familiar with Saoirse.”
She may not grace the covers of Teen Beat or Us Weekly, but Ronan isn’t exactly unknown.
When she was 8, she landed a role in the Irish television show “The Clinic.” A year later, she played Orla Boland in another series called “Proof.” In 2007, three films that Ronan appeared in were released: the romantic comedy “I Could Never Be Your Woman,” in which Ronan played Michelle Pfeiffer’s daughter; “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” and the Joe Wright-directed “Atonement.”
“Atonement” got Ronan worldwide recognition from audiences and the industry. TheTimes’Kenneth Turan called Ronan “exceptional.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott described her as “remarkably poised.” And in London’s Sunday Times, Cosmo Landesman described her performance as “confident and gripping.”
Despite the attention, Ronan has avoided the flashbulb limelight that surround her young peers such as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. And she doesn’t expect that will change.
“I don’t think I would ever want fame like them,” Ronan said. “I have to say, I think Miley Cyrus is still quite young. She’s what? Seventeen? I think she’s very brave for all that fame to be thrown at her so young. She’s like another Britney Spears. I don’t envy her at all — or any of those girls who get that much attention. I suppose we’re different kinds of actors. I focus on my work. The stuff that comes afterward — the press and premieres — it’s fine, it’s fun . . . but what I really want to do is work on my acting.”
An only child, Ronan was born in New York City, where she lived until she was 3. Her parents, Monica and Paul — he’s a well-known Irish stage actor who’s appeared in such films as “Veronica Guerin” and “The Devil’s Own” — moved the family back to Ardattin, a small Irish village — really small; it has a population of about 300 — in County Carlow.
It was there that a glimpse into her passion for acting revealed itself . . . with the help of a plastic toy doll called Polly Pocket.
“I used to make up stories,” Ronan recalled. “Little soap operas. Polly Pocket’s boyfriend was Woody from ‘Toy Story.’ They were together for a very long time — since high school, actually. In college, he had an affair. It was very complex — things that probably a 7-year-old shouldn’t have been imagining. I was a weird gal.”
But it’s that vivid imagination that makes her an unforgettable actress, Jackson insists.
“When she’s performing — when she’s in the moment — there’s no sense that she’s acting,” Jackson said. “It just feels completely authentic. I can see her being one of the premium actresses of her generation. It’s impossible to predict things, but she’s so versatile. I could easily see her having a career as esteemed as Cate Blanchett or Kate Winslet.”
But, for now, she’s still enjoying the perks of being a teen. She lives most of the year with her parents in the Irish countryside, two hours from Dublin.
Her mother travels everywhere with her, and to keep the homely vibe on while on location, they rent houses instead of staying in hotels. She loves her dog, Sassy.
She likes to get lost in the pages of books — the latest have been Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” and ” Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.” When she’s not reading, she enjoys watching movies such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Grease.” Music? She’s a fan of Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. But she’s also jams to Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and Bob Dylan.
If this acting thing doesn’t work out, she’s interested in painting and writing — “anything creative.” But she’s hopeful her time in front of the lens continues. She would even like to work behind the lens, sitting in the director’s chair.
“I’ve got more in me,” she said. “I’ve only given you a taste.”
Saoirse did a photoshoot and interview for WWD Lifestyle. Here’s the interview:
2009 : Session 07 (WWD Lifestyle)
For a 15-year-old girl, Saoirse Ronan has experienced her fair share of cinematic drama. As the pre-pubescent Briony in 2007’s “Atonement,” she witnesses a sexual crime and lies to investigators, a role for which Ronan (whose first name is pronounced SER-shuh) scored an Oscar nomination. And in the Peter Jackson-directed “The Lovely Bones,” opening, she portrays a teenage girl raped and murdered by her unassuming suburban neighbor. It would take a toll on someone twice her age.
Yet despite her slight frame and delicate, porcelain face, it is easy to see why directors choose Ronan for such dark fare. Curled up on a banquette in The Four Seasons Hotel in New York, she projects both the innocence of youth and the self-possession of a working professional. “I’ve always been a bit of an old soul,” she says.
She gives new meaning to that descriptor in “The Lovely Bones.” After her character, Susie Salmon, is killed, she spends the majority of the film in a middle world between life and death. Set in Seventies Pennsylvania and based on the Alice Sebold novel of the same name, the movie follows the Salmon family’s struggle with the tragic loss of 14-year-old Susie. Ronan acts as both narrator and spiritual force, watching as her parents (Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg) self-destruct while her killer (Stanley Tucci) continues to roam unnoticed.
“A couple of times I did get upset. But when you’re working on a movie for a long time, you just have to push it to one side, really, and get on with the job,” says Ronan of handling the challenging material, which includes a chill-inducing murder scene with Tucci.
Though she didn’t read the book until after the shoot (“I was 13 at the time and I was a bit too young — the first chapter’s a tough read”), Ronan found tapping into Susie easier than one might imagine.
“She’s this normal teenage girl. She comes from a strong family unit. She’s been protected her whole life. And that was very easy to understand because I’m the same way,” explains the Irish actress, who studied with a dialect coach for a mere two weeks to nail her pitch-perfect American accent.
Born in New York but raised as an only child in rural County Carlow, Ireland, Ronan didn’t grow up with typical child star intentions. Though she staged pretend soap operas with her dolls (“Woody from ‘Toy Story’ was having an affair with Polly Pocket’s best friend — this was when I was four,” she remembers) and landed a small part at eight on the Irish TV show “Clinic” through her father’s casting agency, she came to her passion for acting slowly.
“I didn’t know until I started to do it really. It’s sort of like, ‘How do you know if you want to be a footballer if you’ve never kicked a football?’” she explains. “When I did ‘Atonement’ the level was raised. It was a challenging role for me to take because it was a drama and I was working with really talented, professional people, and I was 12. So that’s when I started to think, ‘I really love this. How can I give this up now?’”
She shows no signs of stopping: Next up is Peter Weir’s World War II-era drama “The Way Back” with Ed Harris and Colin Farrell.
But the personal consequences of her chosen career have proved a difficult adjustment. For one, she had to switch to home-schooling after her Oscar nod.
“With everyone knowing who you are, it just wasn’t working out. I wanted to go to school, but it’s not going to be that way,” says Ronan.
Indeed, the stakes will only rise with the release of “The Lovely Bones.” At the New York premiere, Courtney Love accosted Ronan to gush about her performance, much to the young actress’ surprise. And at a recent appearance on MTV’s “It’s On With Alexa Chung,” Ronan was shocked to find photographers waiting outside for her arrival.
“I got ‘papped’ in the States for the first time last night,” she says of the experience, her eyes widening. “I think it’s different when people recognize you here. I knew it was going to happen in Ireland and that was fine; it’s Ireland and it’s grand. But in the States it’s like, ‘This is actually happening for real now.’”
Byzantium Role: - Release Date: 2012 Genre: Drama - Fantasy - Thriller Official - Info - IMDB - PhotosThe Host Role: Melanie Stryder/Wanderer Release Date: 23 March 2013 Genre: Sci-Fi - Thriller Official - Info - IMDB - PhotosViolet & Daisy Role: Daisy Release Date: 2011 Genre: - Official - Info - IMDB - PhotosHanna Role: Hanna Release Date: 8 April 2011 Genre: Action - Adventure - Thriller
Official #1 - Official #2 - Info - IMDB - Photos - VideosThe Way Back Role: Irena Out on DVD: 19 April 2011 Genre: Drama
Official - Info - IMDB - Photos
Saoirse Ronan Web is an unofficial, non-profit fansite. We have no affiliation with Saoirse Ronan herself or her management. All copyright is to their respective owners, no infringement is ever intended. This website is best viewed in FireFox.