Despite being only 21, Irish-American actress Saoirse Ronan boasts an impressive resume starring in The Lovely Bones, Grand Budapest Hotel and Lost River. Saoirse’s latest project, Brooklyn, is set to propel the young actress to super stardom.
Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, is based on the novel of the same name written in 2009 by Irish author Colm Tóibín. The film tells the story of a young Irish girl, Eilis, moving to New York City to find the job she couldn’t have at home. She emigrates to Brooklyn where she starts working in a department store, still feeling desperately homesick. She then falls in love with an Italian plumber, Tony, and starts thinking about a future with him. But there’s an unexpect twist when Eilis’ sister dies and she must return home and is then faced with a choice between her new life (and love, Jim), and her home and family.
Brooklyn portrays a side of the Irish diaspora rarely seen on film: the wrench of leaving home, the culture shock of New York, the community of women in particular that helps Eilis settle into her new life, and ultimately the choice between two different but equally valid ways of life.
In interviews Ronan shares how much she and her character, Eilis, have in common. Saoirse’s own parents, Paul and Monica, left Ireland for New York during the recession of the 1980s, in much the same circumstances. Ronan, their only child, was born in New York in 1994, although she has few memories of living there – her father’s work as an actor brought the family back to Ireland when she was three.
As Eilis, Ronan shines bright, her expressive pale-blue eyes give so much, and she convincingly portrays a shy girl blossoming to womanhood – although she was only 20 when the film was made.
But the budding actress is not shy to more mature roles. Saoirse is one of the youngest actresses ever nominated for an Oscar Award. In 2008, when she was just 13, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2007 Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvory.
Saoirse admits that she is not often offered the kind of roles that used to be standard for young women – characters that exist to be rescued by the hero, or as a prop for his virility.
It is something Ronan claims to think much about. ‘It’s become a lot more important to me to help progress women in film, whether it’s through the characters that we see on screen, or just by working with female filmmakers so that it becomes the norm for a woman to be a director, not a talking point.’ Saoise shared in interview with Telegraph.
Saoirse also explained what excited her about Brooklyn was that the female characters ‘aren’t glamorized or overly sexualized – they’re normal women. This was an intelligently written character who really went through a journey, and there were so many scenes where she only interacted with other women.’
The powerful young actress has quite a few exciting projects on the horizon, including a project with Michael Mayer, titled The Seagull, where she’ll play alongside Corey Stoll and Elisabeth Moss, and also a film with Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman,titled Loving Vincent, a movie about the life and death of Vincent Van Gogh, starring Aidan Turner, Helen McCrory and Douglas Booth to be released in cinemas in 2016.