Friday 24 January 2020

Don't feel too down for Saoirse after latest award snub - the real prize for her is doing great work

Feet on the ground: Saoirse Ronan at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills. Photo: Reuters
Feet on the ground: Saoirse Ronan at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills. Photo: Reuters

Paul Whitington

It will have come as no shock to Saoirse Ronan that she didn't win a Golden Globe in the early hours of yesterday. Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' didn't have much momentum, having perhaps controversially only been nominated in two categories, and both Scarlett Johansson (for 'Marriage Story') and Renee Zellweger (for 'Judy') were the bookies' favourites to win Best Actress. In the end (bizarrely), it was Zellweger who prevailed.

But Saoirse's well used to sitting stoically through awards ceremonies. Phenomenally, given that she's just 25, she's already been nominated for three Oscars, three SAGS, four Baftas and three Golden Globes: thus far, though, that 2018 Globe for 'Lady Bird' is her only major award, and her response to it tells you a lot about Saoirse's attitude.

"It was a shock!" she told me when we spoke soon afterwards. "I'm used to just being nominated and not winning - my loser face is finely honed! So when I won I was like, oh no, I actually have to talk now, I have to speak!"

Awards, it seems, are an amusing distraction from the real business at hand - the work. And she's very proud of her collaboration with Greta Gerwig in 'Little Women'.

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"I always really liked those books," she told me when we met just before Christmas, but the real reason she did it "was Greta. I think if someone else had been doing it, then maybe I wouldn't have been as interested, because although it's such a special story it has been done eight times. The reason why I felt so adamant that I had to do it was because of Greta. I knew she'd do something different with it.

"Her touch is fresh and different, I feel, from what everyone else is doing. It's like very classic but very modern. It's not like edgy for the sake of it."

And there was only one role Saoirse wanted. "I just tapped Greta on the shoulder and said, 'Listen, I know that you're going to do 'Little Women', and I need to be your Jo!' I hadn't even seen a script or anything at that point, I just trusted her taste so much."

Gerwig's film has been much praised for its fluency, and playfulness, but her approach leant heavily on the ensemble efforts of her actors. Saoirse, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlan and Laura Dern work together superbly, interrupting and talking over each other like a real family.

"It was mad" on set, Ronan told me. "And what you see in the scenes, it was like that and then some. Because you know we're actors, so we're all loud and emotional and everyone was having a laugh the whole time and doing impersonations of people and ripping the piss out of each other, and I think Greta just sort of let that happen and let us embrace that, and she didn't ever try and put a stop to it.

"So it meant that we would be like blah blah blah blah as we were coming on to set and she'd just go, 'OK, and action'. Greta's an actor, and she understands that sometimes it's important to keep that sort of feeling alive."

She's proud of the finished film, which may be treated more fairly when the Oscar nominations are announced next Mo y. And if Saoirse's nominated for a fourth time, will she be getting excited? Not likely for an actor whose feet are firmly on the ground.

"Even now," she told me after the Golden Globe win for 'Lady Bird', "I'm of the mindset that everything's really good at the moment, so I'm going to appreciate it now, because there will be times when maybe it isn't. I hope to be working in film always, but you never know."

Irish Independent

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