Imagine your mom is really proud of you. Now, imagine you’ve just earned an Oscar nomination — how freaked out would she be? Well, if you’re Saoirse Ronan’s mom, you’re totally and completely over the moon. (Obviously.)
“I was in bed asleep, and my mam ran into my room sobbing,” says Ronan, laughing. “She told me the news, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For Ronan, who plays a young woman who immigrates from her native Ireland to make a home for herself in New York’s busiest borough, the making of Brooklyn proved an altogether personal experience, given that the period-set film was shot in a town just 20 minutes from where she grew up in Ireland.
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“Sometimes I couldn’t manage how I was feeling,” says Ronan. “It was a huge responsibility to have my childhood and work overlap, and they had never really done that. That had never really happened to me before.”
The result, however, is a beautifully poignant performance that captures an individual’s journey towards self-discovery; one that Ronan hopes will provoke greater sympathy for modern-day immigrants.
“By empathizing with one individual person, maybe they’ll employ that to the mass amounts of people who are making that trip every day,” says Ronan. “Whether it’s the people who have come before us, or our ancestors, our ourselves, we’ve all been through that journey in some sense.”
If anything, Ronan’s nomination represents a homecoming of sorts — a “welcome back” from the Academy, which nominated her for an Oscar when she was just 13 years old.
“Atonement was the third film I had done, and I was really excited about it and appreciative, but it was one of those things were I was like ‘That’s really nice, I was nominated,” recalls Ronan, who’s currently in New York City preparing for her turn in a Broadway production of The Crucible. “Now it means so much more. I’ve been working since I was 10, and I’ve spent more than half of my life on a film set. To be acknowledged by your peers and the people you look up to, and the people that are actually filmmakers means an awful lot. I can appreciate that now.”