As one of our proudest and most talented exports, we'll always jump at the chance to catch up with the very lovely, and ever humble Saoirse Ronan. Whilst on set in Germany filming for The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Oscar nominated actress took time out to fill us in on her first foray into romantic territory with The Host, her Love/Hate obsession and why starring as Cinderella opposite Cate Blanchett would be a dream come true.
Saoirse, for those who aren't that familiar with the story of Stephenie Meyer's The Host, can you just give us a bit of a background?
Yeah, well it's kind of a complex story, but basically The Host is about planet Earth being inhabited by these foreign bodies that we call souls. And they're sort of an alien type thing in a way. Basically they inhabit different planets to perfect them and to rid planets of any negativity at all, so any hunger or war or hatred y'know. They just want to perfect the world that they're living in. So they've taken over Earth and their way to do that is by actually inhabiting human beings and that's their process. So they've taken over a lot of human bodies.
But you play a character called Melanie Stryder who's managed to resist all of this, am I right?
Yeah I play a character who has resisted it for as long as she can and she's part of a very small resistance. She's on the run with her brother but eventually she does get captured and a soul is put inside of her. But she doesn't disappear altogether, she doesn't back down and eventually she persuades the alien who inhabits her (Wanda) to work with her to find her family.
Obviously the book was HUGE, had you read it before?
I did read the books before, yeah, I read it when I got the script. And it was funny because I remember getting the script and I told Andrew the director 'y'know, I'm going to read the book and everything, before we start' and he was like 'you don't have to read the book, 'cause the book is like the Bible'. It's huuuge. It's a great book I have to say, and a great concept.
So why this role, Saoirse?
Well, I've never done anything like this before. I just think the concept really interested me. Just the idea of someone taking over our world and and trying to rid it of all the things that became wrong with it.
Wouldn't have anything to do with starring opposite someone as attractive as Max Irons? How was it working with him?
Haha, yeah it's lovely working with him. We get on very very well. Max and Jake and I. No it's great fun, I mean the actors that are involved were brilliant and I had been a big fan of Andrew Nichols before and just Stephenie as well. She's just a great writer.
We'll back to the romance aspect in a sec, so. How involved was Stephenie here? I know she was a huge part of the Twlight movies.
She wasn't really talking me through the role as such but she was on set every single day and extremely supportive. It was great to have her there. Like there was no pressure with her there or anything. She doesn't allow it to kind of feel that way. She's lovely and she's a friend of mine now.
There's so much talk online about this becoming the next big franchise, after Twilight and The Hunger Games - would you be up for it if it goes down that route?
I don't know to be honest, we'll have to wait and see how it does. I understand the comparisons because of Twilight and The Hunger Games doing so well but it's one of those things that you'll just have to wait and see.
OK. Back to the kissing. This is your first big romantic pairing in a movie. How was that to film?
Well I had done some kissing and stuff in movies before but this was the first really big romance based role. And it was fine, to be honest. I think when you get on with the actors that you're working with, even if you do have really intimate scenes, as long as you get on well, and have a bit of a laugh while doing it, then it's fine. And it was fine. We're mates, so it was grand. Max is great, like. He's a very good actor and what's great about him is that he really cares about what he does and he's very professional and he works hard. He wants to the best that he can. So just because of that commitment, it'd be great to see him do well after this.
Not only is this your first foray into a big romantic role, it also boasts some of the biggest stunts you've ever done, is that so? I believe the others on set had bet against you being able to do them. The cheek!
Yeah, haha. There was actually this one stunt. It's near the start of the film where I escape from this sort of holding cell that I've been in 'cause the human almost takes over her for a little bit and she's persuaded Wanda (the alien that's living inside her) to get out of there. So they go outside and she's sitting on a balcony and she's trying to persuade her to jump and eventually the kind of human energy just takes over and pushes her over the edge. So I did that myself. I was on a harness and everything like but it was a good bit up, about 30 feet up or something like that. It was actually probably the biggest stunt that I've ever done. And yeah, nobody thought that I would do it except for one woman who was the second AD on the set. She said 'everyone else is betting that you weren't going to do it and I knew you would' so I was delighted with myself.
Now the movie rumour mill has been in over drive the last while, what with all this Cinderella talk. Can you tell us anything at all about what's happening?
Unfortunately I can't really say. It's all very hush hush. I think Cinderella is a fairy tale princess that pretty much every little girl has grown up with so it's amazing to think about that. I can say that Cate's (Blanchett) doing it, I know that, but that's all I can say right now.
Fair enoughskis. From The Host to Cinderella to Neil Jordan's Byzantium where you play a vampire. How was that?
It was great! It was kinda cool because it didn't really feel like we were making a vampire film. The cool thing about Byzantium is that we never referred to ourselves as vampires. We always say that we're 'succreants' which is quite cool. It's very gothic and classic Neil Jordan style. It was really good fun. And because it's set in modern day as well there's kind of a constant struggle with my character in particular between past and present. It felt like I was playing a really really old person in a young person's body who fed on old people.
Sounds fun! So you've got a very busy year lined up so.
This year? Yeah, there's a few things that'll hopefully be happening soon after I finish up with the press for The Host. I'm very excited but I can't talk about them.
Do you get much of a chance to come home these days?
I do get a chance to come yeah, I'm home most of the time. When I'm not working or doing press I'm back at home.
And for all your entertainment.ie fans, what could we find you doing on your perfect day off?
Jaysus, I dunno, I suppose it's nice to go for a walk on the beach, if you have the weather for it. Just watch a few films maybe. It's nice to have a movie day when it's raining. I'm obsessed with Love/Hate at the moment. I hadn't been watching it when everyone else was so we got the box set and my mam and I have just been glued to it ever since. But everyone ruined it on Facebook, about what happens in the end of season 3 I suppose. The third season's supposed to be the best, I haven't seen it yet though. And the first two are bloody brilliant, you'll have to get into it. I hope they keep getting loads of awards, they deserve it.
The Host hits Irish Cinemas on Good Friday, March 29th.