Here is another great interview of Saoirse talking about ‘Brooklyn’ and her personal journey with BBC. Enjoy!
She is only 21 but Saoirse Ronan is tipped to earn her second Oscar nomination for her role in the tearjerker Brooklyn. It is her most personal role yet and the Irish-American actress struggles with tears as she talks about the film festival favourite.
“It’s been amazing to see the reaction,” says Ronan.
The film was first screened to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in January and most recently at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
“Every festival we’ve gone to… you’re on edge because you think ‘Oh god is the reaction going to be as strong as it was the first time?’ or will that have died down or worn off and it just didn’t, it just got better and better.”
She stars in Brooklyn as Eilis Lacey, a young woman from rural Ireland in the 1950s, who has to leave her home to find job opportunities and a future in the US.
The film has been adapted from Colm Toibin’s New York Times Bestseller by Nick Hornby, who was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for An Education.
Many audience members have been in tears, including Ronan herself.
“Oh yes, I wept within the first five minutes,” she says.
She even gets tearful and has to pause when asked what made her cry when she watched the film for the first time.
“When she [Eilis] packs up her suitcase and her sister is upstairs with her and she has no clothes – she has no clothes to fill her suitcase,” she says.
“That’s a testament to Colm and Nick’s writing that that was such a brilliant way to convey that she needed to leave – that she didn’t have enough clothes to fill a suitcase.”
In the 1950s 50,000 people a year left Ireland due to the stagnating economy. Leaving the country was seen by many as the only way to find a job and a future.
But Ronan believes the film’s appeal is wider than those with families who made this type of journey.
“I think it’s because whether you’re American or not – everyone’s left home and everyone’s felt that kind of grief and everyone’s been able to tap into this in such a deeply personal way and that’s all you want at the end of the day.”
For Ronan herself the film was particularly personal. Her parents were migrants to the US and she was later born in New York.
She was, however, brought up in rural Ireland and part of Brooklyn was filmed 20 minutes from her home.
Also in the year between signing up to the film and the start of filming she had left home for the first time and moved to London.
“The journey I was going on was running parallel to Eilis at the exact same time,” she says.
“It was the first time that I felt fear going into something… because I know how much it meant to film, I really wanted to get that right.”
“I think that was a very difficult head space and heart space for her to occupy while we were shooting,” says director John Crowley.
“There was a lot of pressure on her because it was her first large Irish role – in fact her first Irish role of any size.
“You could feel she felt the pressure of this great silent mass at her shoulder in the way which we both did in telling this story to get it right for all the people who had undergone that kind of a journey – who just went away with little more than a suitcase in their hand and a lifetime’s worth of sadness, rather than massive dramatic events happening to them.”
Crowley also related to the story as an Irishman now living in England.
Knocked for six
“When a story means so much to you and it’s almost like it’s your identity, as it was for myself and John, it just means so much more,” says Ronan.
“So every scene I would do it would really strike me and it would kind of knock me for six.”
Eilis suffers terribly from homesickness until she finds love with an Italian-American man. But her family draws her back to Ireland, where she finds she is torn between the two countries and two men.
The film won the top audience award at the Vancouver Film Festival and Ronan has already received the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards.
There has been a lot of praise for the casting.
Jim Broadbent plays the priest who helps her settle in the US and Julie Walters plays the landlady of her Brooklyn boarding house.
Walters has been mentioned as a possible Oscar contender and Emory Cohen has received glowing reviews for his role of Ronan’s Italian-American love interest.
But it is Ronan’s performance that has led the Oscar talk.
“She deserves it,” says Crowley.
“She’s a fascinating actor because she’s all intuition.
“And yet whether it’s an accumulative effect of having been on film sets since she was 10 – her sense of the camera and her technical ability is just unerring but none of that technique is conscious – it’s just seems to happen.”
Ronan was nominated for an Oscar at the age of 13 for her role in Atonement.
Now 21, she calls the Oscar talk “great” and “lovely” but she’s not getting carried away.
“The thing is now I’ve been lucky enough to have been on both sides of that conversation – where it has gone in that direction and it’s been great and where it hasn’t… and it’s fine.
“And I’m glad I went through that because I realise how many different elements go into all that stuff and genuinely I wouldn’t be expecting anything.
“But the fact that people are talking about the film, and you know me, I guess in that way it’s great.”
Brooklyn is out in the UK and Ireland on 6 November.