Saoirse Ronan is no stranger to the Hollywood limelight. The star was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award at just 14 years old for her performance in Atonement. Seven years later, she has been nominated anew, this time for her starring role in the film Brooklyn. Ronan, who chats on the phone from a nail salon in Dublin, says being nominated again feels noticeably different the second time around.
"I'm older and I've worked for a lot longer so I can appreciate what it really means and what it represents," says the actress. "That was something that my mam — a wise one, my mother — always said to me, that to go through something like that quite early on is amazing, but it doesn't mean quite the same."
"It doesn't represent the work that you've done," she continues. "Whereas to do it now and to get that kind of recognition...to be recognized for a film that couldn't be more personal to me is wonderful, and I don't feel like any of it is being taken for granted."
Ronan says that her family and friends in Ireland, particularly her mother, help her to stay grounded amongst the chaos of stardom. "I look to her for everything, she's my role model," says Ronan. "She's not phased by any of that stuff at all. I guess because of that, neither am I really. When you've got someone like that as your leader, you don't really lose sight of what's important."
"That's been really amazing for me to have that," she admits. "I can see how people get lost."
"It comes down to what you want out of the work you do and I think you can't really lose yourself if you're in it for the right reasons," she continues. "From when I was a kid, I only just wanted to work and that was instilled in me by mother and my father."
Ronan says her mother is accompanying her to New York next month to prepare for her Broadway debut in the revival of The Crucible, in which she plays the cunning Abigail Williams. The two are traveling together from Ireland to help the actress settle into her New York life. The trip is particularly important for both Ronan and her mother, who return to the city after having lived there several years ago.
"I was born in the Bronx. My mam and dad moved over there in the 80s and they didn't have anything. My mam was a nanny," she says. "They struggled when they were there and it was an amazing experience for them, but it was also hard. For her to then come back with me, 21 years later, and get me settled into a nice apartment to do a play on Broadway — we can really appreciate how monumental it is. As a family we've gone full circle."
Ronan's father began acting in New York after being discovered working as a bartender where Irish actors frequented. The family moved back to Ireland when she was just three years old, but she still considers it to be a "second home" and a place where she feels comfortable. "It's my city," she says.
The young star says she is very excited to work with man-of-the-moment director Ivo van Hove on The Crucible, whose recent New York stage credits include Lazarus, A View From the Bridge and Scenes from a Marriage. "I'm so interested to see what he'll do with the play conceptually," she says. "He's a really brilliant director who I think picks up the tiniest little moments and really makes something of them."
Ronan, whilst nervous about making her Broadway debut, says she is looking forward to playing a "true villain" in her next role. "I'm aching to play somebody who's just bad," she says. "Abigail is fully aware of the havoc that she's causing...she's so complicated."