Saoirse Ronan Interview: Fascinating, Insightful and a Confidence Booster.


I remember the first time I came across Saoirse Ronan's work. I was fourteen years old and was on an aeroplane from Shannon, Ireland to the US. I was bored and started flicking through the in flight entertainment when I came across "The Lovely Bones". From then on, I kept up to date with Saoirse's work. A few weeks ago, which have felt like an eternity, let me tell you managed to get in contact with her PR and I didn't expect any response as I've tried before to no avail. However, I am so excited to tell you that Saoirse responded.

Here goes:

Saoirse in her Oscar nominated role as Briony in "Atonement"
In September 2011, I decided to start up a Saoirse Ronan fan page on Facebook.

I love how she, like myself has a great love for the Irish film industry. One film that I am very excited about, is "Brooklyn", which is being released in November. Saoirse plays an Irish girl, called Eilis from a book that Irish author Colm Tóibín wrote. Okay, I am  obviously excited that she's playing a character with my own name, but can you blame me? Already there are whispers of Oscar nominations, before the film has already hit cinemas. My fingers are crossed.

Saoirse as Susie in the film "The Lovely Bones"
Do you think Ireland is recognized enough for its talent in the art of film-making?

S- I think there has always been a certain amount of respect given to us globally for our film-making. The likes of Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan's work from the 80's and 90's really helped to secure that, but also, as a nation we are renowned for our story-telling. It's integral to how we communicate and it's a huge part of our heritage and will continue to be, I think. It is so exciting now though, that film-makers like Lenny Abrahamson, John Carney, Lance Daly, John Crowley, Gerard Barrett etc. are making waves across the pond with their work. A few more ladies on that list and we'll be unstoppable! It's up to our generation of film-makers to keep the Irish film-making style fresh; to tell stories in new and interesting ways. I feel there is a movement starting to happen in the Irish film industry that I am very excited by and proud to be a part of. 

Who in the Irish film industry would you like to work with?

S- Any of the names I've mentioned above really (Crowley knows I'd work with him again in a heartbeat)! I was incredibly lucky to have worked with some amazing Irish women on Brooklyn. Jane Brennan, Bríd Brennan, Eva Birthistle, Fiona Glascott, my pal Eileen O'Higgins. I think I speak for all of us when I say, to work on a film that had so many scenes where actresses played opposite other actresses exclusively was a huge stepping stone.  To work with each other on such beautifully nuanced scenes that contained an incredible amount of depth was wonderful. Nick Hornby's writing gave us something to work with and it demonstrated that scenes between women,  about women, for everyone, can be interesting and entertaining and we should definitely do more of them, please and thank you!

An oil painting of Saoirse while in character in the upcoming film
"Loving Vincent"
What in your opinion is unique about the Irish film industry, and the working professionals within the industry?

S- I think what is unique about our industry at home is that, as I said before, it is in our blood to tell stories. It is how our greatest legends have survived all these years. Our stories have been passed from generation to generation with such colour and passion and detail (sometimes embellished, but sure isn't that part of the fun?). No one tells a story quite like your granny and grandad, or your Great Aunty Carmel (she'll kill me for calling her that). That makes its way into how we work on set or on stage too. We are a grounded people, no airs and graces, we work hard and we treat everyone equally. That usually makes for a lovely experience on a job. Plus, once you've done a couple of films at home, you basically know everyone anyway, so you're just working with your friends over and over again! 

Do you think that because of working on "Brooklyn" that you would work on another Irish film using an Irish accent?

S- think I would. I would never just want to sound like myself; the accent would need to be different in some way from my own; but there are so many accents within Ireland that I would love to explore. I'd love to do a proper Dublin accent, and I would love to try an accent from the North. 

If you could pick an actor/actress /or director to work with who would it be and why?

S- Someone I love, mainly from seeing her in House of Cards, is Robin Wright. I think she's wonderful. A really fantastic actress with so much control. I like actors that don't give everything away, there's a mystery to their performance - that's fascinating to watch. I would also LOVE to appear in the show Girls with Lena. Just for a minute. Because I love her. "A voice of A generation" - indeed you are, Dunham. Indeed you are.

The piece of music from "The Lovely Bones" called Susie's Theme is one of my all time favourite instrumental pieces. It makes me feel so many emotions. I really recommend you play a bit of it while reading this blog post. Love, sadness, bittersweet, nostalgia. At the moment it reminds me of love, how you can still love so much, perhaps even more strongly when you lose someone. This is exactly what the film is about.

What would be your main tips on doing a good audition?

S- First of all, no one likes auditions. So if you're reading this and you're prepping for something and you're dreading going in to a room full of people you don't know and you're hoping you don't mess up your lines, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I'm pretty sure everyone feels that way. I do anyway... in case you hadn't figured that out from my deliberate usage of block capitals a couple of sentences back in order to really drive that message home. Everyone's different. Obviously, learn your lines. Get those stuck in your head so good that they will never escape... Until the audition's over, then you'll probably forget them straight away. When you've done that (learn your lines), read through the scene, think about what it means to you/the character. If you've read the script, you'll have more context of course. Then, make a decision on what you're going to do. Mess around with it, but commit to a certain feeling. You can always change it up if they ask you to.

What has been your favourite country to work in for a film?

S-  My favourite country to work in would have to be New Zealand. It's beautiful beyond measure. The people are even more beautiful. I would go back there tomorrow if I could. 

What is the mark of a good director, and could you describe the directing style of any of the directors you've worked with.

S- the mark of a good director - that's a tough, but great question. It depends on the type of film you're doing and its style. I've never worked with anyone like Wes Anderson. He is incredibly specific on what he wants. You'll most likely do 20+ takes (rolling resets, which means you don't cut in between takes, you just reset) which I actually loved because you're adjusting what you're doing every time. The size of shot, what each specific shot will cover, and what each and every character is doing/how they're moving/when they turn their head, etc.  is decided on beforehand. He usually keeps the dialogue quick - back and forth back and forth. I realised how smart that was when Tony and I did the scene on the carousel. A very romantic, sweet, innocent scene to read. We launched right into that feeling, and he pulled us right back out of it. "Quicker!" is the note you would get for every take, and I realised that he didn't want anyone to dwell on the emotion too much. It was still there in the scene by the end, but somehow it was more natural. It flowed better. A good thing to remember is, when you have good writing, you really don't have to do too much!

Someone like John Crowley - of course wants his shots to look beautiful - but is really all about his actors. 
John has been the best I've worked with at balancing humour and blending it with drama. You will go onto set with an idea of what you are going to do - do that for a couple of takes, and then he'll send you somewhere else completely. Then, by the end of that scene, a few takes later, you're not quite back to where you started, but there are remnants of what you brought to the table to begin with! However, he has turned it into something so much more layered and sincere. He has helped me to really look closely at a scene. Find all the different layers to it and explore them. He made sure I didn't get lazy. I was kept on my toes in every single scene - we all were. I love that he's there for his actors first and foremost. I also don't think he realises quite how funny he is and how masterful his impersonations are.
I think, if you and your director have a good chemistry, you can learn so much from them. For me, that is the person, more than anyone else, I want to be happy with what I've done. I am there for them. The directors I've worked with have stretched me and shaped me and because of them, I continue to grow every time I work, because you just have to adjust. Unless you're Meryl. She should be allowed to do whatever she wants. In all seriousness though, that's what makes her, for example, really great - she changes so drastically from job to job. Joaquin Phoenix is another really good example of someone going through that complete transformation every time. Even the guys on SNL - yes, what they're doing is funny and goofy and over the top, but they transform into something else literally every 5 minutes on that show. Their look, their voice. 
It's fun what we do and I'm glad I get to do it.

Saoirse as Hanna in the film "Hanna"


Joanne her PR at for being so good to me and helping me to get in contact with Saoirse.

Saoirse Ronan herself ( I am still pinching myself at this amazing opportunity) for agreeing to answer my
questions and for making such a effort to give me lots of information, I will be forever grateful. Thank you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much I loved writing this. 

Thank you so much as always for reading it.
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  1. I had a problem with Atonement. Saoirse was only 12-13 and the film had crucial scenes of her discovery sex in the movie. If she went to watch it at the age, the theatre would not let her in America. In a Irish magazine and website she had said she found out about oral sex from a director or producer. Not like anyone one had tried anything like vulgar language or touched her, someone had told her what it is and usually a child learns about sex from their parents or in school, not on a film set. Still she perfect, she is so so mature and her values beliefs would make me proud. My folks are from Ireland so I loved Brooklynn.


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