Rising star Saoirse Ronan dishes on upcoming ‘The Lovely Bones’
The Daily got the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with the young actress Saoirse Ronan to discuss her role in director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel “The Lovely Bones.” Ronan described the process she went through to prepare to portray her character, Susie Salmon, a 14-year old girl who is raped and murdered by her neighbor, and discussed her ascent into the public eye since her Academy Award-nominated role in “Atonement” (2007).
Q: Do you interpret Susie Salmon more through the screenplay that you read or through your analysis of the novel? Do you ever find yourself having conflicts with the interpretation of your current director?
SR: Well, I focus more on the character and the screenplay instead of the book because it’s a different version of telling the story. But still, it’s [handy] to be making movies that were based on books. No, I haven’t had any conflicts really with the directors that I’ve worked with, so I’ve been very lucky. We’ve gotten on really well.
Q: Are there any similarities between you and the character Susie Salmon regarding your personality?
SR: Yeah, there’s a few. I mean, Susie’s a typical teenage girl, so I think that hopefully when girls go and see this movie, they’re going to connect with her in some way. But she’s interested in photography and fashion, and things like that. And boys, of course. So, I’m interested in all those things.
Q: What was it like to film the heaven scenes [in “The Lovely Bones”]?
SR: It was a little bit surreal at first because it was all blue screen, and I hadn’t worked with that much blue screen before. And most of Heaven was going to be put in afterwards. So, it was sometimes difficult to try and imagine what it was going to be like. We obviously had an idea in our head of what the basic picture was going to be. But it was great and when I saw the movie, it was a lovely surprise to finally see Heaven.
Q: In both “Atonement” and “The Lovely Bones,” there are a lot of very dark themes, and your character always seems to be right in the middle of the gloom. Given that you’re kind of a cheerful person in real life, how do you place yourself in such dark situations that these movies portray?
SR: You know, I find sometimes it’s quite easy to be the opposite of how you are in real life. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just because it’s not somewhere that I go very often. The door is always open for me to go there. It just takes a lot of thinking and I really understood Susie and Peter [Jackson].
Q: You’ve worked with [co-screenwriters and married couple] Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson. How was it working with them?
SR: I absolutely loved working with them. They were brilliant. They’re partners, so they’re together all the time pretty much. And Fran is one of the kindest, sweetest women I have ever met. I love her. She’s funny. She’s creative. She’s just wonderful. And Pete and her are like a rock. They’re just great together and, of course, I love working with Pete as well, as director and as a friend.
Q: Did working on this film with some of the other more experienced actors [like Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci] help you carry away something that you can use maybe in your future films?
SR: I think it’s just the way they are on set. I’ve worked with a lot of actors that just have a really good approach to working with other people and you need that when you’re working on a movie. You become a family unit, so it’s very important to get on with everyone. And, it’s not as much with acting itself because everyone kind of has their own thing that they do. So, the people that I’ve worked with have been very respectful towards me and they know that I have my own thing going on.
Q: How have you responded to all of the attention that “Lovely Bones” has been getting in regards to awards speculation?
SR: To be honest, I try not to think about award season at all, especially when it concerns a movie that I’ve made. None of the press have actually seen the movie yet, so it’s not fair to say, but it’s great that they’re putting it at such a high level already. Hopefully it does well. I just really hope that everyone enjoys it [and] that they connect to it as much as they did with the book. So, if awards come as well, then that’s brilliant.
Q: How have your roles in “Atonement” and “The Lovely Bones” influenced your outlook on life?
SR: With “Atonement” it wasn’t that influential because [my character] was a bitter girl. I suppose that it would make you think more before you speak if anything. But “The Lovely Bones,” in particular, just made me appreciate what I have — that I’m lucky to be here, I’m lucky to have the amazing family that I have. It’s also made me more aware of things that go on in the world, these awful crimes that are committed every day.
Q: What should viewers learn and take away from this film?
SR: Well, I think that the message of this movie, although it may not seem like it to people who haven’t seen it yet, is ultimately hope … When Susie arrives in the in-between, she doesn’t want to go forward, which would mean accepting her death. She wants to be back on Earth with her family and she knows she can’t do that. And to get there, you know, it’s about her love for her family and not the hate and vengeance that she has for her murder.
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