I MISSED OUT ON A FUN, TYPICAL, GOOFY TEENAGE LIFE
BY THE TIME Saoirse Ronan was 13, she had already gained an Oscar nomination (and rapturous praise from critics) for Atonement, followed by a leading role in The Lovely Bones. But if all the ingredients were there for her to become a child star diva, 10 years later the actress is anything but.
Yet, in an exclusive interview with Grazia, the 23-year-old has revealed she once felt robbed of a normal childhood because of her early successes.
Speaking to promote her new film Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut – she said, ‘I feel like I missed out on a fun, typical, goofy teenage life. But I’m getting to do that now. I really wanted to go to NYU for a very long time. And then I realised it was mainly because I wanted that social aspect.’
However, Saoirse praised Greta for helping her come to terms with the ‘lack’, saying, ‘I was away so much so I wasn’t a part of that structure. But Greta says it’s your responsibility to learn. It’s not down to a teacher, a school. And anything that you learn, you’re not memorising it to pass an exam, you’re doing it because you actually have an interest in it.
‘Once you accept that, it’s the most incredible thing, because it’s something that you hold with you forever.’
It comes after Saoirse won her third Oscar nomination – for Best Actress in Lady Bird. Greta, meanwhile, received a nod for Best Director, making history as only the fifth woman to be nominated in that category in the last 90 years.
The pair have become firm friends after working together on the film – a semi-autobiographical account of Greta’s upbringing – which has won effusive praise from critics.
‘It was kind of a first for both of us, because it was Greta’s first movie [as director] and I hadn’t done comedy before,’ says Saoirse. ‘ We talked a lot, about so many intimate things. I feel like right away we were “in it” with each other.’
Thanks to working with Greta, feminism is now at the ‘core’ of her life. She added, ‘I was watching Greta say all of these wonderful, smart things, and talking about how she’s just soaring as a director. It’s so inspiring and brilliant. I feel like feminism has gone from quite a considered thing for me to something that is just in my bones.’
Saoirse also credits women like 34-yearold Greta with changing the game for actresses in Hollywood by creating ‘ breathing space to support each other and pursue things together’.
‘It’s mainly the women in TV who I think have gotten us to a point where film and TV are beginning to cross over now, with shows like Big Little Lies,’ she adds. ‘And what Lena Dunham, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did: all these people who were probably not being given the work that they deserved, so they went out and wrote it themselves. They made a success of it and they made money out of it. Men pay attention to money.’
Last month, Saoirse thanked Greta in her acceptance speech when she picked up a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. That night, she was one of countless actresses wearing black in support of the Time’s Up movement in protest at sexual harassment and gender inequality in Hollywood.
‘ There is a female revolution going on right now,’ she says. ‘ We’re just at a point where you can’t escape and we have to do something about it, on both sides – men and women. I can see in our industry that so many women have come together to actively pursue civil rights and create a safer and fairer environment.
‘ We’ve gone from saying, “Yes, we really need to make a change and we’ve all got to stick together,” to “Oh fuck, we really need to make a change.” Now more than ever, feminism is at the core of my life.’
feminism has become something that’s just in my bones
‘ Lady Bird’ is in cinemas from 16 February
Saoirse (also below) and Greta on the set of critically acclaimed Lady Bird