Irish actress Saoirse Ronan’s latest role, as Mary Queen of Scots in the blockbuster of the same name, is already attracting Oscar buzz.
Playing such a strong character – Mary goes toe-to-toe with her English cousin Queen Elizabeth I in a fierce battle for the crown – has evidently had an impact on the young actress. Originally attached to the film when she was just 18, the now 24-year-old Saoirse said playing the role now had a different effect on her than it would have when she was younger.
In an interview with The New York Times she revealed she went through something of “a transformation” playing Mary. She said,
“Mary was such a woman in power and so comfortable in that role, and it really helped me… There were a few tough choices I had to make professionally at that time — picking jobs and scheduling — and I owned them in a way I never would have done before.
“I think it was because I was playing a woman who made tough decisions, even when they weren’t going to make everyone happy. And that’s always torn me up, because I’m such a people-pleaser!”
The film focuses on two women in positions of power when it was not commonplace to be so. The men around them endeavor to suppress the young queens (“Wise men servicing the whims of women?” snorts one disgruntled man, presumably unhappy with being answerable to a queen).
On the - not unconnected - subject of women in Hollywood and men’s attitudes towards them, Saoirse has no time for sexist perceptions: “Men say that it can be too much drama to have actresses working together. That’s bollocks!”
And when it comes to making good choices and learning the power of saying now, she reveals an Irish director John Crowley gave her the best piece of advice:“[It] was from John Crowley, who directed “Brooklyn.” He said, “Don’t ever do something because you should do it, only do it because you want to do it.”
Mary Queen of Scots, which also stars Margot Robbie, arrives in Irish cinemas on 18 January 2019.