Saoirse is featured on IO Donna, a renowed Italian magazine. Unfortunately for me, my italian is pretty tragic, but I did make an attempt at translating the article, and you can read it below. I apologize for any mistakes and would very much welcome corrections.
Our gallery has also been updated with the photoshoot featured on the article.
It is almost impossible for the actors to inspire tenderness outside a film set. The better they are, the greater the mistrust. But in the presence of Saoirse Ronan who, with genuine triumphalism, reveals: “Yesterday I got my license!” Not even the experienced reporter can prevent solidarity. And the feeling is that the 25 year old Irishwoman who received her first Oscar nomination when she was 13 (for Atonement, which was followed by two others) had a great desire to tell the world she grew up.
The condition of a child prodigy (and she is a prodigious child too), even if perhaps it is no longer as dangerous as it used to be, it is certainly uncomfortable. There is always someone ready to remind you of the stories that ended badly, the talents that disappeared, those in conflict with their parents, those unable to make the transition. Macaulay Culkin will forever be the child from “Home Alone”, while Jodie Foster still represents, at 56, the happy outcome. Saoirse, beyond the exoticism of the name (meaning “freedom”, which was very popular in the 1920s and was pronounced “Serscia”), is keen to let people know that she lives a fairly normal life. She works in Europe and America and rests in the Irish countryside, which she never misses an opportunity to exalt for its beauty and thaumaturgical properties on the body and the spirit.
At 25, you are now an independent woman, have an apartment in London, have been traveling since you were born. Is Ireland still home?
It will always be, even if I like to live between one place and another. I was born in New York, I left it for Dublin and then for 12 years the Irish countryside opened its arms to me every time I returned home. I like being with my family and Ireland is a place where you can still enjoy the silence and space. I don’t know if it will be like that for long. The Irish passport race was triggered by the Brexit.
Are your childhood friends still there? Have you managed to keep in touch with them with the life you have?
It is inevitable to lose people when we leave, or when we take different paths in life. But I still have some friends from when I was a child and fortunately there are new ones I’ve met along the way. Like Eileen O’Higgins, we met on the Brooklyn set, she’s from the North: let’s not stop discussing what’s going on …
You have dual citizenship, Irish and American. You can look at what happens here and there from two points of view.
Actually I would need 3 or 4 … No one understands anything of what is happening, especially in Britain. Brexit is a real mess and nobody knows how to get out of it. If you ask me what I see halfway between these two worlds, I see aggression growing both in Europe and in America.
If a true border is re-established in the heart of Ireland it will be …
…a nightmare. From the logistical point of view, but mostly moral. It will be a step backwards in history. This has been a peaceful country since 1998 (the peace agreement for Northern Ireland was signed that year). Problems and violence have been solved, but I see an old anger re-emerging from the past. Nobody here wants a hard border, neither in Dublin nor in Belfast. But I don’t understand what they want in London.
You have two movies coming out. “Ammonite” belongs to that category that once would have been called a “women’s film”.
All the films are, I don’t think it’s an adoptable category anymore, even though here are the two women. I loved working with Kate (Winslet), I looked up to her growing up. Kate plays a woman inspired by the figure of Mary Anning, a talented paleontologist who was very influential in 1800 in Great Britain. We are in the 20s in a coastal town, and there Anning has a very intense friendship with a rich London woman entrusted to her by her husband, played by me. They end up falling in love.
An impossible love. It is not the first time that you have walked in the shoes of a woman who discovers herself through the revelatory power of the body: growing up while playing roles like little Briony in “Atonement”, the young bride in “Brooklyn”, Lady Bird’s restless little girl, not to mention the theater version of Abigail in “The Crucible”. What did you discover about yourself?
Putting them all in a row is like getting a catalog of the universal passages of life. They are characters in which I have reflected myself, who have sent me an image of me that was changing. Of course, these are processes that perhaps make an actress who started early as I did more conscious… perhaps too conscious. Mine is a job that requires caution.
The last time we met was for Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. You had just turned twenty and that, you told us, was the first film in which her mother had not accompanied her. A rite of passage. Isn’t it the fate of only children? The bond is strong, primordial, and independence creates excitement, but also sadness.
Exactly so, a combination of those two feelings. Suddenly you know that childhood with its simplicity goes away and will never come back. And I had a beautiful childhood, also thanks to my mother. The twenty years are a complicated age for everyone. And the first moment you have to decide to move around the world alone is crucial. But the relationship grows, changes, and with the distance, is perfected. Yesterday I passed the license exam. I would say that I’m really grown up now.
Your mother would have liked to protect you from an environment of which we now also know the many dark sides of.
Hollywood is not a place for children. Maybe not even for adults, sometimes. But I was really lucky. The directors and actors I worked with were kind to me, always protective. They still are now, even though I might not need it anymore. But even though I never ran into any danger, I realized early on how it could have been if I hadn’t found myself in a safe place.
The other film in which we will see you in a few months is “Little Women”, directed by Greta Gerwig. You will be Jo, the most modern of the March sisters. But is there still room for Louisa May Alcott’s story in the world in 2019?
In 2019 or 2050 it will always be current, as it is timeless, and every generation can be reflected in it. In the film there is also Meryl Streep in the role of the aunt. I have a single scene with her, but that was the most exciting day of all shooting. Looking at her … it’s incredible, she has magic inside, a way of working that is hers alone. I was very agitated…
You were often directed by women. Do you wish to direct too?
Greta is one of the directors who influenced me the most. She made the journey from acting to writing and then to management. I hope to do the same. She’s a model for me.
And what would you like to start with?
I would like to direct Irish actors and tell something about my land, a story of rebellion, a political story.
One day you could even be a model. In the photo shoot you made for Donna, you seems completely at ease. What is your relationship with fashion?
In reality I don’t know much about it, compared to many of my colleagues who are very knowledgeable about collections, creative directors, designers. Elizabeth Saltzman, my stylist (Saltzman also dresses Gwyneth Paltrow and is in 12th place among the most influential stylists in the world in the Hollywood Reporter list), really opened up a world, introduced me to designers like Alessandro Michele from Gucci, Tom Ford … incredible people. I would never have felt so at ease, or so sexy, or cool, with a dress before I met her. For the first time wearing a dress I felt that I embraced my femininity.
Is posing for a fashion catalog like playing a character?
A fashion catalog is like a movie. Have you ever seen Paolo Roversi work? He’s a real director.