SHE might be known for her fragile and ethereal charm, but it was a whole new departure for Saoirse Ronan in her latest role as an "innocent" young killer.
The Irish actress had to put in some serious physical training -- including weights and knife fighting -- in a gruelling schedule of four to five hours every day to prepare for her part in the film, 'Hanna', co-starring Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett, which marks her reunion with 'Atonement' director Joe Wright.
"It was bad-ass -- really cool," said Saoirse, explaining she plays a teenage killer trained as an assassin by her dad from birth.
"But she's kind of innocent," she added.
Her own father, actor Paul Ronan, who accompanied his daughter to the launch in Dublin yesterday of the Irish Film and Television Awards, told reporters he was very impressed by the work his daughter had put into the role.
"She was really well prepared," he said, explaining that she had trained with a Hollywood stunt man and went to LA for further training.
"Maybe it means I can stop following her around at some stage in her life," he laughed.
Saoirse, meanwhile, said she hoped the new movie would be something new and different from what has previously been out there.
The 16-year-old actress -- dressed like any other teenager in a striped breton top, grey cardigan, khaki trousers and red studded Converse boots and wearing her blonde hair loose -- has been nominated for an IFTA for her role in 'The Way Back', about escapees from a Siberian gulag who walk 4,000 miles overland to freedom.
Saoirse, who begins the gruelling round of publicity work for 'Hanna' in the US in March, is not currently shooting a movie.
Instead she is enjoying some much-deserved downtime at home in Carlow, hanging out with her friends and her beloved dog and going bowling with her family as well as making trips to the cinema -- "normal stuff" her father said.
Meanwhile, the Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award will be presented at the IFTAs on February 12 to Irish producer Morgan O'Sullivan, who is also managing director of World 2000 Entertainment Ltd, the company involved in the films 'King Arthur', 'Veronica Guerin', 'Braveheart' and the television series 'The Tudors'.
Among his other credits are the RTE television series 'Raw' and the films 'PS, I Love You' and 'Reign of Fire'.
Born in Dublin in 1945, he began his career as a child actor when he lent his vocal skills to the cast of Radio Eireann's 'The Foley Family'.
Announcing the award, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin paid tribute to Mr O'Sullivan's "unwavering support and promotion" of the Irish film industry. "Over many decades, Morgan's expertise has made a serious contribution to the economic viability of our film and television industry," she said.
Mr O'Sullivan said: "I would like to dedicate this award to all of the people who have supported me down through the years but particularly the Irish film and television community."
Ms Hanafin also announced that section 481 -- the tax incentive programme for the film industry -- would be retained in the forthcoming Finance Bill, and which is believed to be worth in the region of €20m to the Irish economy.