By Nina Terrero
November 07, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST
  • Movie

Plenty of movie stars — especially actresses — feel pressure to change their weight for big movie parts, but Saoirse Ronan says that wasn’t the case for her role as a young émigré in Brooklyn, revealing that the breakout period role actually helped her become feel more comfortable in her own skin.

“I didn’t have to shift my weight at all, but just as someone who is coming into womanhood, it was encouraging to wear clothes that just encouraged you to have the figure you have and not fight it,” says Ronan of the ‘50s-style looks she adopted for the John Crowley-directed drama. “I felt more like a woman in those clothes than I’ve ever felt.”

Ronan, who earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for 2007’s Atonement when she was just 13 years old, says she counts herself lucky to have been spared the harsh scrutiny and standards that Hollywood often sets on women. 

“I’ve been lucky,” she says. “I’ve never been put in that situation, and I’ve never thought about my body in that way when it comes to work.”

Ronan fell in love with the feminine fashion her character wears throughout the period-set flick. “I think Brooklyn was the first film that I got to dress like a girl,” jokes Ronan, who played an assassin in 2011’s Hanna and a grungy girl-next-door in 2014’s Lost River. “I think up to this point, people weren’t even sure I was a female because half the time I was in animal fur, rags, or an orange jumpsuit.” In fact, Ronan has no problem taking on another period role in the near future – on the condition that corsets aren’t required. “I don’t want anything where your lungs are shriveled at the end of the day,” she says. “But in all seriousness, if you’re the type of person that really wants to change things in every role, which is how I like to work and what I’m drawn to, it’s a great thing to experiment with different fashion, looks and clothes and embrace a character’s physicality.”
Kerry Brown


And, as it turns out, wearing feminine period fashions played a big part in helping Ronan embrace the part of Eilis, an optimistic Irish transplant who takes on the challenges, heartache, and trials of life in America.

“It was the first time I had felt actual fear going into a project, because there was nowhere to hide. I couldn’t hide behind this other world that I was becoming a part of, or a completely different character than I was. This was, for the most part, about my mam and so many people who’ve made that journey. It felt like it was a huge responsibility not to mess it up,” says Ronan, whose parents immigrated to New York City and were married in City Hall, just like her character in the film. “But to actually put that garter on every day, to put on those delicate tights and the cone bra, was actually a really good way to get into the mindset of a woman from that time.”

For more on Ronan’s captivating period costumes, click here.

2015 movie
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 111 minutes
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