At only 16, Saoirse Ronan already has 9 films and an Oscar nomination under her belt. But spend a few minutes with her while she's munching on french fries and lounging barefoot, and you'll see that this Irish actress is actually refreshingly normal. From geeking out over Lady Gaga to showing off her favorite Miu Miu brogues, the almost-17-year old is totally charming. In other words, we were totally relieved to find that she's the exact opposite of her scary hit-girl alter ego in the new action movie, Hanna. We caught up with Saoirse the day of the film's New York premiere.
So the premiere for Hanna is tonight. Are you pumped?
Yeah, I'm ready for everyone to see it! We've had so many screenings and Q&A's, and the reaction has been pretty great. I'll be interested to see the response.
What drew you to the film originally?
The whole project seemed a really exciting thing to be a part of. It was very well-written, and the writer, Seth Lochead, was only 24. I liked the fact that the character was different than other action heroines than I'd seen before. She's weird, a bit of a misfit, and quite alien as well. She's just now experiencing all these things that we've had our whole life to experience. Joe Wright [the director] got on board soon after I did.
Hanna is basically this teen killing machine. How was it playing such an intense role?
It was brilliant. It was one of the best exercises you could have as an actor. She's been in isolation her whole life, and I've got to play this girl who's seeing the world through very fresh eyes and quite fascinated and shocked by everything. She never really knew the difference between beauty and ugliness and she wasn't prejudiced and everything. She's a blank slate and you can paint whatever you want on her.
Was it difficult to detach yourself from her each day?
No, actually, it wasn't. When we had physical scenes that would usually take the whole day, it would take some unwinding.
What was the hardest thing you had to go through physically?
There was this shot in the beginning of the film, it's close-up of me. I'm running across a frozen lake and sprinting about 400 meters and it was minus 25 degrees out. I get to the end, and I'm like, “I've got it, I'm about to faint, I can't do anymore!” And then Joe says, “Yeah, we're just going to do that one more time…need to catch something.” So we had to do it again!
How often do you come to NYC?
I was actually born in the Bronx, but moved to Ireland when I was 3 ½. It's weird, it actually feels familiar. I feel like I've been here before.
What are your favorite places to shop?
I love Urban Outfitters and Topshop! Both stores are really close to each other each other in Dublin, and I always go.
What do you do when you're not filming?
When the weather is nice, I like to go to the river. Shopping is nice for a few hours, but then I get tired and my back starts to hurt. I feel old! I just like hanging in the city, really. I love Dublin. I go to a lot of concerts.
Who's your favorite person you've seen live?
I looooove Gaga. I've seen her live twice; I'm a total groupie. I saw her in Berlin and also about a week and a half ago in LA. My mom and dad didn't know what to get me for my birthday, so I was like, “Listen, Gaga's playing in LA...." So I went, and I dressed up; you feel under-dressed if you don't. The LA concert was her 25th birthday, and at the end of the gig they brought in a cake, and everyone sang to her- it was great.
Last question: how was it bleaching your eyebrows for the movie?
It was weird! They totally paled me out by bleaching my eyebrows and the tips of my eyelashes, and I had a wig. After a while I'd forgotten I had bleached eyebrows and I'd always get looks in Berlin and stuff. I looked like a different person.
-- LIZA DARWIN
Hanna opens in theaters this Friday.