Three new TV spots have been out a few days ago. Here are the links:
When Saoirse Ronan walks into the Old Poland Bakery in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, the 15-year-old actress looks every bit the schoolgirl. That is, if she went to school. Since her Oscar-nominated performance in Atonement two years ago, Ronan has been too busy to attend regular classes. “I tried to go back recently,” she says, “but I felt like I was in a zoo. I felt like there were 20 kids crowding me, teasing me.”
Still, all things considered, Ronan’s life has been fairly normal. Her parents travel with her wherever she goes. She refuses to move to Hollywood and doesn’t much care for fame. “I try not to read much press about me,” she says in her sophisticated Irish brogue. “Most people are nice, but then you have really mean people who are like, ‘Who’s prettier: Saoirse or Dakota Fanning?’ I hate when they compare.”
This Christmas, Ronan co-stars in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel The Lovely Bones, as the film’s brutally raped and murdered narrator. Ronan, who will also appear with Colin Farrell in The Way Back, Peter Weir’s upcoming war drama about escapees from a Siberian gulag, says it was difficult to film the scenes in which Susie looks over her family from the afterlife. “I was surrounded by a blue-screen most of the time, so I had no idea what Peter’s heaven was going to look like. My family is Catholic, but I don’t know if I believe in a god.” Before Ronan has the chance to get into her personal theology, her lunch arrives, and her otherworldly eyes light up. “I’m so excited!” she says, finally sounding her age. “I’ve never tried chicken noodle soup before.”
[spoiler]What was your initial reaction when watching the film? Did you have any idea what it might look like?
I knew that whatever happened, Pete was going to do something incredible with it, because he always does with all of his movies. The waiting process to see this movie has been almost two years. But since I hadn’t seen it until recently, I’d never really thought of it as a movie, as a finished film.
How do you try to understand a character like Susie Salmon, someone whose life experience is so vastly different from yours?
When you put it like that, it actually sounds quite difficult. But I’m pretty good at understanding people in everyday life, and that’s one of the most important things about becoming someone else on camera. I also think it’s important to have a good relationship with your director. If you don’t have that then I don’t think you can portray the character in its entirety, the way it deserves to be played. Although Pete’s style of directing is different from any other director I’ve worked for, it just works. He talked to me about loss. It wasn’t exactly about death, but more about having something taken from you and never getting it back.
The Lovely Bones is an adaptation of a fictional story, but it’s also based, however loosely, on Alice Sebold’s life. Were you conscious of that during filming?
I wasn’t really. For me, Susie was completely separate from Alice. I wanted to create for Susie her own identity. She became a part of me for two months, not in a method acting kind of way but as if became her friend. I knew everything about her, and how she would react to something.
Did you discuss the story or your character with Alice?
I haven’t met Alice. I think they invited her on set, but she never came. I thought it was great that she didn’t want to get in the way of Pete’s interpretation of the story. It seemed to me, from what I heard, that she really respected him and his vision.
Were you able to leave the tragedy on set?
Sometimes I’d come home from work and get really upset because I was so close to Susie. As a human, as someone with a heart, of course I got upset. But I tried my best to leave it there.
Tell me about your working relationship with Stanley Tucci, who plays your murderer in the film.
Stanley is one of the sweetest guys. He is very kind and funny, really easy to be around. And it was important for us to be that comfortable with each other in order to go into those uncomfortable scenes. After we finished the cornfield scene [during which Stanley’s character murders Susie Salmon], I went over to him and gave him a hug. He had his arm around me and we walked off and had a chat.
What’s it like when you’re at home? The Irish are a proud group of people.
I mean this in the most modest way, but everyone loves Ireland. We’ve got a very good reputation and even though we’ve had some trouble in the past, I think that’s made us more proud of who we are. We’ve really fought for our country and for freedom. I have to say that the stereotypes people have set for us kind of annoy me. Sure, there are a lot of people who drink in Ireland, but there are also a lot of people who drink in Britain and everywhere in the world.
But how normal is your life at home? Have you been affected by fame?
It’s not as normal as it was before I started acting. I’m quite well known in Ireland, so people recognize me.
Does that happen when you walk down the street?
Has that started to happen in America?
It’s happened a few times, but America is a lot bigger than Ireland. A lot of people know me over there. It’s quite odd when you’re walking through the town you grew up in and people start to look at you differently, people that I know, people that I don’t know, or people that I’ve seen on the street before and recognize. I’m really happy that my acting career has taken off, but at the same time, I’m not doing it for fame.
How has your film success affected your school life?
It’s changed quite a bit. When I was nominated for an Oscar, I was working on Lovely Bones and I couldn’t start secondary school with the rest of the kids. I had planned to go back to school after Easter but it didn’t really work out. I’m not going to delve too much into it, but it just didn’t work out at all, for me at least.
Because the other kids knew about the movies you were in?
Yeah, I felt like I was in a zoo. I felt like there were 20 kids crowding me, teasing me. It was just a bit mean. There were some good kids, too.
Saoirse has been nominated for Best Actress and Best Young Actress of Critics’ Choice Awards. She will also receive Chopin Virtuoso Awards at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in California in February.
Susan Sarandon and Saoirse Ronan have found a way to spice up their interviews – they’re choosing random words, such as “anthropology”, “steamboat” and “eyeball”, and competing to see who can use the words more in their media comments.
The stars of The Lovely Bones were in Wellington today ahead of the film’s New Zealand premiere at the Embassy Theatre tonight.
“Steamboat”, says Ronan, was “quite difficult”, whereas “anthropology” was “fine”.
The 15-year-old Irish actress, who plays murdered girl Susie Salmon in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel, also joked that she was thinking of returning to her character’s CGI heaven, “the in-between”, this summer — as long as she was able to return.
Many critics believe her performance in the film could earn her an Academy Award nomination — it would be her second in as many years after last year’s nod for best supporting actress for her role in Atonement.
[spoiler]But she’s trying to ignore the Oscars hype “because sometimes it can just get in the way”.
“It would be wonderful if it did happen. This film means an awful lot to me and I really, really enjoyed working with the guys and I worked on it for a long time so it would be fantastic, but I don’t think it’s really something that any of us are thinking about.”
At a press conference this afternoon, Jackson, looking a shadow of his shaggy, rotund former self, wouldn’t be drawn on the film’s awards-season chances, saying only that he had seen James Cameron’s animated epic Avatar, and it was “the film to beat”.
He describes The Lovely Bones as “a personal adaptation” by himself and screenwriting partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, with a smaller budget than the trio’s other recent projects — including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong — giving them the ability to take more risks.
“You can’t adapt the book perfectly to please everybody that’s read the book, obviously, so you’ll end making your own decisions about what … to leave in, what to take out.”
Critics are divided on the film – Britain’s Sun called it “the best film of next year”, while Variety slammed it as “a significant artistic disappointment ” – but Jackson says he’s not particularly nervous about how audiences at home will respond to the film.
“You’re always nervous when somebody sees your film obviously but this is the fun premiere tonight…
“The heart of the film is here — it’s where we live and work so this does feel like coming home.”