The phrase “a role she was born to play” has been used so much that it has become a Hollywood cliche. But in the case of Saoirse Ronan the phrase isn’t hype when used in connection with her role in “Brooklyn.”
Ronan plays an Irish immigrant who moves to Brooklyn in the 1950s. She falls in love and marries an Italian-American, but that love is threatened when she returns home after a family tragedy.
The actress, who was born in the Bronx, is the child of Irish immigrants, who like her character came to America to find a better life. When Ronan was 3 years old, they moved back to Ireland where she grew up and found her love of acting.
“The initial draw for me to do this movie was the journey my mom and dad made,” Ronan says. “They moved to New York in the ‘80s and in 1994, they were married at City Hall.”
Before filming started on “Brooklyn,” which opens in Fresno on Wednesday, Nov. 25, Ronan talked with her parents for hours about their experiences. She had grown up hearing the stories of how tough it was at the beginning when her parents left Ireland, but she was looking for even more details that would help her play the role.
The time frame was different than the one in the film directed by John Crowley, but many other aspects lined up perfectly.
One of the biggest hurdles Ronan’s character faces is leaving her sister behind in Ireland. When Ronan’s mother decided to go to America, it was her sister who purchased the airplane ticket for her.
“It was the hardest thing my mother ever did, but it was also the best thing, When she decided to go to America there just weren’t any jobs for her in Ireland,” Ronan says. “I did get a real understanding of just how emotional it was for her to leave her family behind.”
Being separated from family and friends is something Ronan understands because of her career path. The 21-year-old has been working professionally since she was 8 years old, including starring in the feature films “Atonement,” “City of Ember,” “The Lovely Bones,” “Hanna,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Host.” Ronan is set to make her Broadway debut in 2016 in a revival of “The Crucible.”
Ronan is certain a lot of people will connect to the movie because of their own family history.
“Everyone has gone through something like this is their own way. There are all kind of people with immigrant stories in Los Angeles or in the big Cuban community in Miami,” Ronan says. “There is a universal feel to this story.”
And, even if there is no immigration connections, there’s always the love story about two people from entirely different worlds finding each other.
In the case of “Brooklyn,” Ronan’s character not only finds true love once, but twice. The bad thing is that she falls for the two men at the same time.
“These are two men with different backgrounds and she falls in love with both of them. She looks at both as good suitor and both had things to offer,” she says. “What I like about this film is that both men would provide her good lives. This is not good versus evil. It’s about which person should she pick.”