Thursday 17 October 2019

'Saoirse charmed Atonement set at 13', says author Ian McEwan as she gears up for role in On Chesil Beach


Sean O'Grady

The author of Atonement has told of his joy at discovering Saoirse Ronan will once again be playing one of his characters in the film adaptation of On Chesil Beach.

Ian McEwan wrote bestseller Atonement which later became a film starring Saoirse, Keira Knightley and James McAvoy and saw the then 13-year-old nominated for an Oscar.

McEwan told how the Carlow actress charmed the set during filming.

"Even then, she showed an extraordinary ability to take control of the material, to morph from a sparky Irish kid into an upper-class English girl with cut-glass accent to match," he said.


"She knew how to convey a particular form of inwardness, of an imagination running riot.

"She also completely charmed and hypnotised the set."

Saoirse Ronan was just 12 in her break out role in Atonement
Saoirse Ronan was just 12 in her break out role in Atonement

Now starring as the female lead in On Chesil Beach, Saoirse (24) told how she was eager to bring another of McEwan's creations to life on the screen.

"Ian is someone who writes women incredibly skilfully, with a well-rounded perspective. I'd like to play another one written by him every 10 years," she said.

In On Chesil Beach, Saoirse stars as Florence, the daughter of an unloving mother and a wife to Edward, who is played by Billy Howle.


"Saoirse has gifts of immediate emotional insight that any novelist must envy," added McEwan. "She can make herself the ordinary girl next door and then, by a shift of expression, a turn of the head, assume great and unusual beauty.

"But above all, it's her intelligence that I cherish."

Atonement proved to be the film that launched Saoirse's career after her critically acclaimed performance.

She has since gone on to even greater success, with two more Oscar nominations under her belt, as well as a Golden Globe for Lady Bird. But McEwan believes the Lovely Bones actress has not let fame get the better of her.

"Burgeoning fame hasn't swamped her. She remains firmly herself, and it's a lovely self, in which the natural 12-year-old child still retains a fun-loving role," he said.


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