Her first name is pronounced SIR-sha. Saoirse Ronan is currently making headlines after winning Best Actress in two of the recently concluded prestigious award giving bodies – the British Independent Film Awards and the New York Critics Film Awards for her starring role in the profoundly stirring movie Brooklyn.
Currently a frontrunner in the upcoming 2016 Golden Globes for Best Actress in aMotion Picture, Drama for her role in the same film, Ronan, in her acceptance speech at the British Independent Film Awards, said, “I got an amazing role to play. I was given the opportunity to honor a journey and a story that’s very close to me.”
Brooklyn is the story of Eilis Lacey (Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
Directed by John Crowley from a screenplay by Nick Hornby based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, Brookly, at its heart, is an immigrant’s tale told in a voice that has rarely been heard. While there have been numerous stories of ambitious or desperate young men driven to seek their fortunes in America, the novel tells a different tale – one of a quiet, unassuming but luminous young woman called Eilis.
Brooklyn required an actress who could authentically embody Eilis with her quietly biting humor, keen intelligence and unfolding desire. Like so many unsung American immigrants, Eilis arrives as a modest, if highly capable, lonely girl about to undergo a profound personal transformation. The filmmakers searched for an actress who would allow the audience into the world of a young woman coming into her own, with gentle wit and determination, as well as one who could understand Eilis’ longing for Ireland. That perfect fit was Saoirse Ronan.
Born in New York to Irish parents and raised outside Dublin, Ronan first found acclaim in Joe Wright’s Atonment, garnering a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® nomination for her performance as Briony. She went on to starring roles in The Lovely Bones, Hanna, and most recently Wes Anderson’s Oscar winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, all by age 20.
Ronan says she felt an immediate, almost uncanny, affinity for Eilis as soon as she read the script. “Nick Hornby isn’t from Ireland, yet he managed to completely capture the spirit of the country. The writing was so beautiful, and so beautifully subtle,” she comments. “It felt close to my heart because it was about my people. It was the journey that my parents went on back in the ‘80s; they moved to New York and went through all these same things, even though it was a different era. The biggest hurdle anyone goes through in life is leaving the security of your family and your friends behind for something new.”
Eilis’ dizzying feeling of being split between two worlds hits especially close to home for Ronan. She continues, “I’m very Irish in some ways but I have an American sensibility as well, as I was born in New York. I think that made the story even more emotional for me, because I have such a strong connection to both of these places, much like Eilis. Everything that Eilis goes through was exactly what I was going though at that point in my life, and I’m still going through now. So emotionally, it was extremely close to me.”
Brooklyn opens in cinemas in February 2016 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.