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Hanna - Saoirse Ronan interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

SAOIRSE Ronan talks about suggesting Joe Wright to direct Hanna and why she liked the opportunity to play a character who mixes genuine innocence with kick-ass ability.

She also talks about getting to grips with the physical aspects of the role and why she fancies working behind the camera one day in the future…

Q. What was it about Joe Wright that made you think he was right to direct Hanna?
Saoirse Ronan: Well, it certainly wasn’t his past action movies [Atonement/Pride & Prejudice] [laughs]! I don’t know why he came into my head. I think it must have been because I worked with him before and I really enjoyed the experience that I had with him on Atonement. Also, I knew he’d bring something different to this film. It was always a really well written script by Seth Lochhead but I knew visually Joe could bring something very special.

Q. And what did you like about Hanna? Was it that mix of innocence and physicality… her ability to be gentle and violent within seconds of each other?
Saoirse Ronan: Yeah, I mean we’ve seen a few young girls now who have kicked ass but we haven’t seen one quite like Hanna who doesn’t really know how to handle society and technology and human behaviour because she’s never really been a part of that world. She’s an alien really. And it’s nice to see someone who, in some ways, is very capable… physically she is but emotionally she’s not really.

Q. Did your work on The Way Back prepare you for the extremes of temperature you went through in this?
Saoirse Ronan: Morocco did because we actually shot in exactly the same place in The Way Back as we did for Hanna, which seems to be the Hollywood of Morocco. Before going back there, however, we had been in Finland and we were in Germany as well… Morocco was the last place we were going to, so everyone who hadn’t been there was so excited about being in the sun. But I was like: “Oh no… it’s really hot! They’re going to have to put umbrellas over you all the time!” But it’s great there, though, the people are lovely and it’s so beautiful.

Q. How did you take to the hand-to-hand combat? It was two months of training, wasn’t it?
Saoirse Ronan: Yeah, it was a couple of months. I wouldn’t say it was easy but I was pushed. I was always pushed to the limit, which was great and so satisfying. We had such a brilliant stunt team around us, who were so brilliant that they always made me feel very safe. If there was something I wasn’t comfortable with, they’d re-jig everything and make it more suitable to me.


Q. Did you always fancy trying your hand at action, or were you more of a ‘girly-girl’?
Saoirse Ronan: I wasn’t ever a girly-girl really. I’ve never been into the pink dresses and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t say I was a tom-boy either… somewhere in-between. I’ve thought about doing action for a while, though, so when this film came along it was perfect. It was something that I thought would be fun to do and the character was really interesting as well.

Q. How much of a kick do you get from working alongside a possible idol like Cate Blanchett?
Saoirse Ronan: It was great to work with Cate. As we all know, she’s a really, really brilliant actress. I didn’t share a lot of very traditional dialogue scenes with her, it was more cat-and-mouse, but at the same time getting to know her and observing how she works on-set and just who she is as a person was nice.

Q. Was she an inspiration for you growing up?
Saoirse Ronan: Yeah, I’d say so. I mean, everyone does their own thing and for me acting is a very personal, natural thing. But the work that I’ve seen her do in the pasty has been so wonderful and so believable.

Q. You said at The Lovely Bones junket that you plan to go into filmmaking and perhaps direct. So, how much did you enjoy liaising with Joe again, who I’d imagine you were very collaborative with, and how much did you get from working with Peter Weir on The Way Back? Did he give you any tips in that regard?
Saoirse Ronan: With Joe, it was great to work with him again and it really did, as you said, feel like a real collaboration between the two of us. I felt like I could really suggest things and have an input creatively and things like that. So, that was wonderful.

As for Peter, I remember I asked him one day… we were in a forest in Bulgaria somewhere and we had a few minutes to spare and I was thinking… you know every now and again you think to yourself: “What am I going to do?” And so I thought I’d like to direct and said that to Peter and asked him how he got started and how he got inspiration and things like that. He told me he just picked up a camcorder and just started shooting and that was it for him. But that’s something that is kind of inspiring because it means that if someone does have a real imagination that’s all you really need. All you really need is a camera and a mind.

Q. Congratulations on landing The Host, the film version of the Stephenie Meyer novel…
Saoirse Ronan: Well, we’re in talks with the people from The Host. Nothing is actually for definite yet. So, we’ll see.

Read our review of Hanna

Read our interview with Joe Wright