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Web exclusive Q&A with Saoirse Ronan

The young Carlow-based actress Saoirse Ronan is on the brink of Hollywood stardom, thanks to her Golden Globe-nominated performance in Atonement and her upcoming starring role in the next Peter Jackson movie, The Lovely Bones. In her first ever in-depth interview, she spoke exclusively to Hot Press about her sudden rise to fame.

Jason O'Toole, 17 Jan 2008

Read the Saoirse Ronan story by Jason O'Toole, featuring interviews with Saoirse and her father Paul Ronan, in the new issue of Hot Press.

Jason O’Toole: Did you always want to be an actress?

Saoirse Ronan: You hear people saying they wanted to act since they could talk, but when I was younger I was thinking about school and playing with my friends and things like that. It was only really when I started to act in The Clinic – and I experienced it – that I knew I wanted to act. Before that, I had done school plays and I did one short film with my dad.

You grew up seeing your dad in films and TV shows, so the movie business must be just part of your normal life, right?

I was a baby when I went on set with dad. It was great that I was able to go on set and see what it was like. So, I wasn’t like completely clueless about how films were made. But when you do it yourself you really realise what it is like. You have to think about what way you tackle your character and what way you deal with people on set. It was handy that I had been on a film set before and I suppose if I hadn’t, you know, it would have been a lot more daunting when I was on the set of The Clinic. I was nervous the first day on The Clinic, as you would be.

I heard Brad Pitt held you as a baby, is that true?

I don’t remember! I know I met him because dad worked with him on The Devil’s Own. So, yeah, I think he did hold me. And Mam and Dad said he’s a lovely, lovely guy and that he was great with me.

Do you have to pinch yourself when you think about all these big roles you got during the last two years?

Definitely, yeah, I do. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to work with all the actors and actresses I’ve worked with. It has been brilliant. But I haven’t really had any time to sit down and go, “Wow!” Sometimes when I’m on the set of The Lovely Bones, I think how I am with these people who made The Lord of The Rings. They won like, I don’t know, 20 Oscars for it or something mad like that. It is amazing that these people are my friends now and not just the people who made The Lord of The Rings. It is mad but I am kind of used to it now.

Can you talk me through how you got into making Hollywood movies?

When I was eight I just went to Dublin for an audition for The Clinic. I met the director and I read through some stuff and I actually read for a different part. It was weird because I thought I was playing one part and then I ended up playing a different part. Then I did Proof - that’s where I met Hubbards Casting, they were casting I Could Never and that is how it all started. When I went to the audition in London I found out that some of it would be made in London and some of it would be shot in Hollywood. They just kind of said, “We are staying in London and then we are going to Hollywood.” That’s how it started off, really.

In America, do people have a problem pronouncing your name?

They have the biggest problem in the world pronouncing my name! You’d want to hear the stuff they come out with. There is so much stuff about “learning to pronounce her name. How do you pronounce her name? This is how you pronounce her name.” They are just so interested in how to pronounce my name. I hope everyone here can pronounce my name!

Do you like Hollywood?

It’s OK. I wouldn’t live there. As I said to Mam, I might buy a house there but I wouldn’t live there. Maybe it’s because I’m Irish – I don’t know – but I’d prefer to live where I am now rather than in LA. And, you know, it’s a nice place but I’m not really (pauses)… an LA lover.

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