Saoirse bags lead role in WWI movie

Claire Murphy

SAOIRSE Ronan has been pencilled in for a new World War I drama as she eyes a second shot at Oscar glory.

THE teen actress has been cast in a leading role as wartime stalwart Vera Brittain.

The Co Carlow native stars in an adaptation of the First World War memoir Testament of Youth.

Brittain went on to become one of the UK's most celebrated pacifists and foretold the effects of the war as she witnessed all the men close to her sent to die on the frontline.

Although Saoirse has just turned 18, she said that she is ready to take on grown-up roles.

It was the period drama genre that first rocketed the actress to Oscar-nominated stardom in Atonement, when she took on the role of a meddling younger sister in a grand house, starring alongside Keira Knightley.

This latest period drama, scripted by Juliette Towhidi, who was behind Calendar Girls, traces Brittain's experiences as "a disillusioned nurse during the war and the beginning of her career as a journalist and pacifist".


Brittain pushed the boundaries expected of females at the time as she managed to study at Oxford as well as throwing herself into the war effort.

The young Irish star takes on the role of a girl on the brink of womanhood but in an era of extreme sexual innocence.

Saoirse recently said that she is ready for coming of age movies but likes to change the type of characters she plays for fear of being typecast.

"It's a given at this stage that romantic stories are going to be offered to me but I'm more interested in the story and characters," she said. "It's just not important if there are love scenes in it."

Saoirse jumped to the top of the A-list after Atonement and has already lined up a slew of projects including Byzantium and Noah.

Next year, the Lovely Bones actress will also appear in the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's novel The Host as Melanie Stryder, as a parasitic alien who takes over her human body.

Testament of Youth has producer David Heyman and his production banner Heyday Films behind it and the project is backed by BBC Films.

The movie is expected to hit screens next year.