Saoirse is in the February cover of Harper’s Bazaar UK! She talked to Erica Wagner about British monarchs, Irish borders and whether history will repeat itself in the age of Brexit. The featured images, as well as the cover, have been added to our photo gallery. You can read the article below!
Saoirse Ronan on British monarchs, Irish borders and Mary Queen of Scots
She was the Queen who might have been. Mary Stuart was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his French wife, Mary of Guise; born in 1542, her charm, beauty and education made her as remarkable a figure as England’s Elizabeth I and indeed, as the great-niece of Henry VIII, there were those who thought her the legitimate heir to the English throne. It is the rivalry between these two women that is the focus of Josie Rourke’s captivating film Mary Queen of Scots – the eponymous heroine embodied by Saoirse Ronan, and Elizabeth by Margot Robbie. Now, on a sunny Sunday morning in Massachusetts, Ronan and I are chatting about the film – and much else besides – though the woman before me seems far from the regal figure I’ve seen onscreen, in a thick cardigan and candy-striped pyjama bottoms. It’s her one day off a week from filming Greta Gerwig’s second directorial outing, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She’s curled up on the sofa, nursing a cold and sipping tea through a straw, but her conversation is lively, funny, warm; and as soon as I’m in her presence I feel as if we’ve known each other for years.
The conflict between Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I would, as we know, eventually lead to Mary’s execution. Rourke’s film is a depiction of the balance of power between them: in a certain sense it’s almost incidental that both are women. ‘The interesting thing is that they’re so similar in many ways,’ says Ronan. ‘The rivalry is almost created by the
lords and advisors around them. They used to write to each other all the time, and we
have a scene in the film where Mary says of Elizabeth, “Nobody understands my situation except her.” I think that’s an interesting thing to see in a political drama, that you’ve got these two people who have been turned into enemies by the people around them, but really they are sisters first and foremost. There’s an incredible strength that comes from acknowledging that.’