A raw look at com­ing of age

Saoirse Ronan brings aim­less Cal­i­for­nia teen to life de­spite her very dif­fer­ent up­bring­ing

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - STEVE GOW METRO

She may only be 23 years old, but Saoirse Ronan has seemed pretty de­ter­mined to cover as many char­ac­ters as pos­si­ble in her young ca­reer.

After all, the ac­claimed Ir­ish ac­tor has gained heaps of praise play­ing ev­ery­thing from a blood­thirsty vam­pire to a ruth­less teenage as­sas­sin, and will soon even be por­tray­ing tragic true-life royal Mary, Queen of Scots.

Her lat­est film, how­ever, is get­ting Ronan a stag­ger­ing amount of at­ten­tion sim­ply for play­ing an av­er­age teen com­ing of age in Cal­i­for­nia.

“Some­times with com­ing-of-age films it can be overly dra­ma­tized or fo­cused on the ro­mance of one par­tic­u­lar re­la­tion­ship,” said Ronan dur­ing a call from Lon­don about her up­com­ing dram­edy, Lady Bird.

“But with this, there’s so much at­ten­tion to the whole world that she’s in (that) it doesn’t feel like it’s not real; it doesn’t feel like any­thing’s been hyped up.”

One thing that has been “hyped up” about Lady Bird is the grow­ing crit­i­cal ac­claim the film’s been re­ceiv­ing for its hon­est and en­dear­ing por­trayal of the tem­pes­tu­ous re­la­tion­ship be­tween an aim­less stu­dent, who in­sists on be­ing called “Lady Bird,” and her nag­ging, metic­u­lous mother.

Writ­ten and di­rected by ac­tor­turned-film­maker Greta Ger­wig ( Frances Ha), the com­ing-of-age premise may sound fa­mil­iar to some, but it has struck such an au­then­tic chord that even the New York Times la­belled it “big-screen per­fec­tion.”

“She’s fig­ur­ing out who she is and we’re watch­ing her do that and make mis­takes and then watch­ing her suc­ceed,” Ronan said of the role many pre­dict will land the ac­tor her third Os­car nom­i­na­tion.

“To be some­one with so much light and shade; so much self-be­lief and also self-doubt at the same time is real and it’s a chal­lenge to play.”

Ronan is quick to credit Ger­wig for craft­ing such a pro­found, pre­cise char­ac­ter — but she also ad­mits it was a role that wasn’t ac­tu­ally all that fa­mil­iar to the U.K.-raised th­es­pian.

“Grow­ing up in Amer­ica is very spe­cific to Amer­i­can kids and I grew up in the coun­try­side in Ire­land,” said a laugh­ing Ronan, who plays an Amer­i­can teenager liv­ing in Sacra­mento.

“It was cool to tap into that be­cause that was re­ally some­thing I had only ex­pe­ri­enced through watch­ing Sab­rina the Teenage Witch.”

Saoirse Ronan, right, cred­its writer and di­rec­tor Greta Ger­wig for craft­ing such a pro­found char­ac­ter in Lady Bird.

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