What’s in a name?

Saoirse Ro­nan may have one that’s hard to pro­nounce, but her award-win­ning roles make it un­for­get­table

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - ENT. - By C.L. Gaber • Spe­cial to the Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal

SHE knows you will mis­pro­nounce her name. How badly you botch it con­tin­ues to amuse her. “I get ev­ery­thing from Sally to Sore Cheese,” laughed Saoirse Ro­nan, the 24-year-old Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tress who hails from Ire­land. Her name — which means “free­dom” — re­ally isn’t that tough.

“It’s Sur-sha,” ex­plained the star of “Lady Bird” and the much-awaited hol­i­day film “Mary Queen of Scots.”

Based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stu­art,” Ro­nan plays Mary Stu­art, who charges into bat­tle as she at­tempts to over­throw her cousin El­iz­a­beth I, Queen of Eng­land (Mar­got Rob­bie). Poor Mary doesn’t just face life in prison but loses her head for her ef­forts.

Al­ready there is Os­car buzz for Ro­nan, who was pre­vi­ously nom­i­nated for “Lady Bird,” “Brook­lyn” and “Atone­ment.”

Re­view-Jour­nal: Tell us about your per­fect Sun­day.

Saoirse Ro­nan: It just feels good when I’m home do­ing not much of any­thing. I love to read and write in my jour­nal. I’ll make Earl Grey tea. I love to cook or watch a fun movie like “Brides­maids.” There is no star treat­ment when I’m home. I’m just an­other girl at the nail sa­lon or shop­ping with my par­ents on a Sun­day. It’s per­fect.

What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a movie star and a queen?

It’s a pub­lic way to live your life, plus there is a lot of hand­shak­ing and meet­ing strangers. There’s the whole pub­lic per­sona ver­sus the real you. You need strength from an early age to sur­vive it.

Is it true that you and Mar­got Rob­bie — as du­el­ing queens — barely saw each other dur­ing film­ing?

It’s funny be­cause last year, I was nom­i­nated for “Lady Bird” and she was nom­i­nated for “I, Tonya.” We ac­tu­ally spent more time do­ing the awards cir­cuit to­gether than we ever would shoot­ing to­gether.

Were you ner­vous to do such a big epic?

A his­tor­i­cal epic was new ter­ri­tory for both of us, and it made us feel vul­ner­a­ble in a great way but still vul­ner­a­ble. Above all, we were so thrilled to be tak­ing on two fierce women. This film is about sis­ter­hood, lead­er­ship and women in power. It is also a timely story about a woman’s jour­ney. To watch Mary be so am­bi­tious and vul­ner­a­ble at the same time as she led was an in­cred­i­ble joy.

El­iz­a­beth vs. Mary. Ex­plain.

We’re watch­ing Mary and El­iz­a­beth in th­ese im­pos­si­ble po­si­tions where they had so much power and re­spon­si­bil­ity. At the same time, they were rul­ing two coun­tries in a man’s world. And they were ad­vised in a way that didn’t serve them or the coun­tries they were rul­ing. They re­ally needed to have good heads on their shoul­ders while re­ly­ing on the peo­ple clos­est to them. It was re­ally about who they could trust. And that’s a universal story that will never go out of fash­ion.

You re­searched the time pe­riod. What part of it could you never live with to­day?

There was so much ten­sion in that time pe­riod, but you of­ten had to let it sim­mer. You spent your time wait­ing for just one let­ter to ar­rive. The whole re­la­tion­ship be­tween th­ese two women was based on th­ese long pe­ri­ods of just try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate. It’s not like they could pick up a cell and just text. It’s not like Mary was say­ing, “Damn you, Queen, I know you read that text I sent to the palace.” This dis­tance con­trib­uted to an in­cred­i­bly tense re­la­tion­ship built over the years be­tween them when they couldn’t ac­tu­ally meet up in per­son. In so many ways, that was a fan­tas­tic thing to play be­cause it re­ally built the ten­sion, but it would drive me crazy in cur­rent times.

You played a teen from Sacra­mento in “Lady Bird” and now Mary, Queen of Scots. Which ac­cent was eas­ier to do?

The Sacra­mento ac­cent was so much harder than a Scot­tish ac­cent! Of course, Scot­tish and Ir­ish ac­cents are very dif­fer­ent, but they’re both quite melodic and mus­cu­lar. I’m sorry, but a Sacra­mento ac­cent seems sort of lazy in com­par­i­son. I’m used to mak­ing ev­ery­thing sound like a song.

You were born in New York, where your fa­ther was an ac­tor from Ire­land. Then your fam­ily moved back to Dublin where you grew up. How did you get your start in act­ing?

It was one step and then an­other based on the idea that my dad was an ac­tor. I wanted to try to fol­low in his foot­steps. Plus, I was sur­rounded by ac­tors and di­rec­tors and creative peo­ple from a very early age, and maybe it was catch­ing. Act­ing just felt nat­u­ral to me. I was al­ways pre­tend­ing to be some­one else.

You’ve been nom­i­nated three times for an Os­car — “Atone­ment” when you were 12 and then “Brook­lyn” and “Lady Bird.” What do you re­mem­ber most?

Oh, it’s so glo­ri­ous each time. Bril­liant. You never ex­pect it to hap­pen — or hap­pen again. I do re­mem­ber the first time. I was do­ing an in­ter­view, and out of the cor­ner of my eye, I could see that Ge­orge Clooney was sud­denly and quite by ac­ci­dent stand­ing on the train of my mum’s fancy dress. My mom kept tap­ping Ge­orge on the shoul­der and re­peat­edly said, “Ex­cuse me, Ge­orge. EX­CUSE ME!” Later, she came up to me and said, “You’ll never be­lieve what Ge­orge Clooney just did to me!”

‘ I was sur­rounded by ac­tors and di­rec­tors and creative peo­ple from a very early age, and maybe it was catch­ing. Act­ing just felt nat­u­ral to me. ’

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