Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
April 2, 2011

In the span of her young acting career to date, Saoirse Ronan has put together an eclectic mix of noteworthy performances. In the wake of her Oscar-nominated dramatic turn opposite Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement, she landed one of the lead roles in the family adventure City of Ember, took center stage in Peter Jackson's adaptation of the bestselling novel The Lovely Bones, and joined an impressive ensemble in The Way Back as a refugee making an arduous trek towards freedom across vast, inhospitable wastelands.

Now, Saoirse is tackling the action genre in a major way as the title character in Hanna, playing a finely tuned killing machine who uncovers her own mysterious past after going head-to-head with the CIA. We had the opportunity to speak with her in San Francisco, where she attended WonderCon in support of the taut thriller that reunited her with Atonement director Joe Wright. In this exclusive interview, Saoirse talks about her experience of taking a film directly to her fans, and previews her upcoming project Violet and Daisy, which she assures us is a marked departure from Hanna, despite their similarities upon first glance. We also learn how City of Ember almost had a very special four-legged guest star, and we try to finally get the definitive answer on the "Saoirse Ronan Pronunciation" puzzle.

It has been nice to see that even with her success in recent years, Saoirse seems no less enthusiastic about her work. Over the course of the Hanna press tour that has taken her all across the country, we've seen her graciously greet media and fans, and energetically geek out about things like a miniature replica of a homing device used in the movie. Completely immersing herself in the experience of the comics convention, Saoirse proudly rocks a pink retro Wonder Woman T-shirt with a studded black leather jacket as she excitedly takes in the sights of WonderCon...

SAOIRSE: Hi, how are you! Nice to see you again after last week's interview...

Nice to see you.

I hope you had a good time at your Lady Gaga concert while you were in Los Angeles.

I had an amazing time! And I wore this jacket to Lady Gaga, as well!

Well, you gotta go in style...


Despite years of interviews with you, people tend to pronounce your name in a variety of ways: most of your colleagues say "Sir-shuh," our press notes say "Seer-sha," and I've also heard "Sair-sha." For the record, what should it be, in your book?

All of those pronunciations can pass for a proper pronunciation of my name. People abroad call me "Sir-shuh," and then people in Ireland call me "Seer-sha." [laughs] So it's kind of whatever you want. I think somewhere in between "Sir-shuh" and "Seer-sha" is quite nice: "Sir-sha."

Hanna isn't the only movie in which you play a young assassin--you're also one half of the title duo in Violet and Daisy. Does that film share similar themes with Hanna, or is it a completely different take on action?

It's not really an action film at all. It's about these two girls who are assassins, but it's actually a black comedy. And it's quite bizarre. [laughs] Violet and Daisy are best friends, and maybe like 18-20. They live in their own little world, and everything's quite perfect in that world, but they don't mix with anyone else. And they go on this job to kill James Gandolfini's character Michael in order to buy these dresses that their teen pop idol has just brought out. So it's that kind of thing.

I guess that's as good a reason as any to whack someone...

[jokes] I know, right? I would do that. I would kill for a killer dress. But I don't think [Hanna and Daisy are] really similar at all. [laughs] Except that they hold a gun.

In keeping with WonderCon's theme of superheroes and comic books, who wins in a fight: Hanna or Daisy?

Oh, Hanna. Because Daisy...She's a bit of a pushover. [laughs]

Is this the first major comic convention you've attended?

Well, I went to Comic-Con in New York a few months ago. But I didn't really get an awful lot of time to get a look around. I'm hoping today that I'll get a chance to buy some Ugly Dolls, because that's something that I have been collecting for the past three years or so.

How was your experience of interacting directly with the fans in the Hanna panel you just finished?

It's terrific. It's the only thing I've done since I got here. But I think the people here are amazing. They give you so much, as well. Because sometimes it can be quite an awkward thing to be sitting at a table and answering questions in front of like 3,000 people. But these people, they loved it! And they loved interacting with all of us, and they were just having fun, you know?

I understand you have a dog. Is he or she well behaved enough to possibly work in a movie with you?

We tried to put her in a film I did called City of Ember, and she kept running off. She was distracted by the beautiful buildings that they had built. So no, I don't think she is well behaved enough to be in a film. She just doesn't have the attention span. She's very independent and she likes to do her own thing.

Well, at least she took her shot at the business...

At least she gave it a shot!

Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you. Bye!

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