”What do you think of my tattoo” Saoirse Ronan, the soon-to-be 17-year-old star of Hanna, bares her left wrist. On her pale skin is a drawing of the sun with emerald rays, a slash mark, and a dark blue raindrop. ”It’s not real. I drew it this morning,” she says, studying it as the actual sun glows outside the windows of an L.A. restaurant. ”I did it because I’m really happy that it’s sunny here. I put green around it because I’m Irish and wanted to incorporate that with the sun. And it’s kind of pushing the rain out of the way.”
This homemade tat is the perfect metaphor for why we adore Ronan: The Lovely Bones actress has starry eyes, but even at a young age there are storm clouds behind them. She got an Oscar nomination for portraying a cruel, jealous girl in 2007’s Atonement, and now Ronan goes into full vengeance mode with Hanna, starring as a teen assassin targeting a CIA operative (an ice-cold Cate Blanchett). Later this year, she’ll play the comedic flip side as a bubble-gum-popping young hitwoman in the film Violet & Daisy. Meanwhile, she’s in talks to reteam with Lovely Bones director Peter Jackson for The Hobbit, playing the elf Itaril. So what is it about this sweet-natured girl that makes directors see darkness?
”Umm…I guess because there is. I actually don’t like the dark, but sometimes I have to go into a dark room and get something out of my bedroom, and once I have done it, I’m glad,” says the actress, who lives in Ireland with her parents. ”I am afraid of it, and that’s why I like to do it. It’s something you have to be a bit brave about. And you have to be scared of it, because it tests you.”
For more from Ronan on The Hobbit, Hanna, and Violet & Daisy, read Anthony Breznican’s full interview.