Saoirse Ronan: Ireland’s Leading Actress credited in over 30 films!

Updated On: May 09, 2022

saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan is one of Ireland’s most famous actors, making herself known within the Hollywood movie scene at the tender age of 12.

She appeared in the feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s book ‘‘Atonement’, alongside stars Keira Knightly and James McAvoy. Saoirse’ captivating performance in the film saw her being nominated for an incredible Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, making her one of the youngest ever nominees. 

Ever since then the Irish actress has gone on to shine in her acting career with over 30+ film credits to her name along with two more Oscar nominations and remarkably today she’s still very young at only 25 years old.

Ronan is one of Ireland’s and Hollywood’s most sought after actors that has seen her work with some of the world’s most brilliant directors including Peter Jackson, Wes Anderson and Michael Mayer to name a few. 

Every role she plays is different from her last, making her such a versatile actress that people just haven’t had enough of seeing.  Some of her most iconic and renown films include ‘The Lovely Bones’(2009), ‘Hanna’ (2011), ‘Brooklyn’ (2015) and ‘Lady Bird’ (2017).

She is at the forefront in helping to create and change how young women are portrayed within the film and TV industry. She is forever bringing to life characters that don’t typically match the stereotypes of women which is great to see on the big screens and over the last 15 years Ronan has racked up a magnificent resume that any actor would kill to have.

In this blog, ConnollyCove will cover the life story of Saoirse Ronan, her upbringing, remarkable roles she’s played and her undeniable success as an Irish actress in Hollywood.

New York Roots and How luck Pushed Saoirse Ronan’s Acting Career

What might surprise people after they hear Ronan’s soft Irish accent, is that she was actually born in the Bronx, New York, to Irish parents Monica and Paul Ronan. When she was just three years old her family moved back home to Dublin, where she has been ever since. However, during her younger years, she was brought up in County Carlow, her mother’s native home. 

She was born in the Bronx, New York, to Irish parents Monica and Paul Ronan (New York City skyline)
She was born in the Bronx, New York, to Irish parents Monica and Paul Ronan (New York City skyline)

Ronan’s father was also involved in the film scene as an actor which led him and his wife to emigrate to America in the 1980s but ultimately choosing to come back home to pursue regular acting work in Ireland. One of his big roles was working with Brad Pitt in the film ‘The Devil’s Own’. As a young child, Saoirse Ronan would accompany her father to movie sets which in some ways inspired her to get into the film industry.

At three years old her family moved to Dublin with her family (Christ Church Cathedral - Dublin)
At three years old her family moved to Dublin with her family (Christ Church Cathedral – Dublin)

The Star of the Family

Saoirse turned out to be the breakout star of the family when she started getting high profile projects. One of her first big auditions was to play Luna Lovegood in the renown Harry Potter film series but lost out on the role to Evanna Lynch.

Although soon after she booked her first major role in 2007 at 12 years old in the romantic comedy ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’ playing the daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer. However, the film never made it to Theatre release instead it went straight to video.

For the film, Ronan had to work closely with a dialect coach to perfect her accent, the same coach who was helping Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice and soon to work on the film Atonement, put Saoirse’s name forward to play alongside Keira Knightly and just like that she got cast for the role.

That bit of luck and of course her talent is what helped Saoirse Ronan become a known name in the Hollywood film world and the rest is history, her career has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Early Screen Success 

After the great success she had with Atonement, it wasn’t long before she was in a new film, this time playing alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones in the supernatural thriller Death Defying Acts (2007), however, the film was met with critical reviews and some suggested that Saoirse’s talents were wasted on the movie.

But with every step back leads to new opportunities and in 2009 Ronan was cast in Peter Jackson’s movie ‘The Lovely Bones’. One of Ronan’s most famous roles, however, her family initially hesitated for her to be part of it, due to the subject matter of the film.

She did choose to go ahead with the film and Ronan was praised for her incredible emotion and acting ability she brought to the character. This film role helped Saoirse earn herself a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress at 14 years old, another remarkable achievement for the Irish Actress.

Rising Irish Star

At such a young age, she had played a variety of roles but her success wasn’t about to stop and Ronan continued to break boundaries with the movie roles she was playing, especially changing up the portrayal of female roles that were appearing on our movie screens. One very iconic film was “Hanna” (2011) that saw Saoirse Ronan play a 15-year-old assassin alongside co-stars Eric Nana and Care Blanchett. 

Hanna was a very physical and action-packed movie with Ronan choosing to do all her own stunts and spend months training in martial arts. The film and Ronan herself received positive praise for its incredible performance. In a review for Rolling stones, Peter Travers called Saoirse an “acting sorceress” for her role in the film. 

As she was growing up Ronan started to look for more mature and complex movie roles, one being Neil Jordans’ Horror film ‘Byzantium’(2012) which provided her with a dark and twisted role to help move away from the child roles she was apart of in the past and to also show her versatility in a variety of movie genres.

In 2014, Saoirse added two more big movies under her belt; one with renown director Wes Anderson in the acclaimed comedy ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and Ryan Gosling’s director debut in ‘Lost River’, whom she also played alongside in the film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel was Ronan’s first film she worked on without her parents by her side, the film went on to have great commercial success and the BBC even suggested that it was one of the ‘best films of the century.’

Big Irish Breakout Film

Saoirse Ronan said that she had always wanted to work on a movie in Ireland or with Irish roots but never found the right role she was looking for until the film ‘Brooklyn’ came along and provided the perfect Irish film debut for the popular Irish actress. The film which is based on a young Irish woman emigrating to America had similar parallels to Saoirse’s own life that helped draw her to the film.

Ronan said being part of the film help cure her own homesickness, as at 19 she made the big step to move over to London and away from her parents during the time Brooklyn was being made. The film mirrored her own life in some ways which allowed Ronan to bring an undeniable realness and emotion to the lead character of Ellis Lacey. Her magnificent portrayal in the film saw her being nominated for both an Academy Award and The Golden Globes for Best Actress adding to her list of amazing achievements in her acting career.

Saoirse’s Big Broadway Move

With so much movie success under her belt, Saoirse made the big move to the theatre world in 2016 after moving over to New York City. Her Debut Broadway performance was the remake of Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’, one of America’s greatest plays. She played the role of Abigail Williams, a scheming maid responsible for the death of 150 people accused of witchcraft

The Broadway show ran for an incredible 125 performances directed by Ivo Van Hove. Saoirse Ronan was highly praised for her portrayal of her character and helped to lead the Broadway performance with her commanding display on stage making a total 360 flip from her last role as a timid Irish girl in Brooklyn.

Her move to the theatre scene was inspired and encouraged by her own mother after she felt she didn’t have the maturity to do a play until she was in her early 20’s. Broadway allowed Ronan to remake and experiment with her acting styles. She had long been famous for her silent gaze which we see in many of her movies but on the stage, its a different experience needed to connect with the audience but of course Ronan’s broadway show was a total success as expected

More Movies and More Awards

 After her big theatre debut, Saoirse went back to making movies, first up was the animated filmed “Loving Vincent (2017) about the life of painter Vincent Van Goth. Ronan voiced the character of Marguerite Gachet in the film whilst also working on the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s book  ‘On Chesil Beach’ appearing alongside Billy Howle. 

But it was her next film ‘Lady Bird’(2017) a coming of age movie by Greta Gerwig that gave her more award success for her portrayal of the spontaneous and unpredictable character of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson.

The New York Times even labelled Saoirse’ performance as one of the best of the year and added her on their best actors list. She went on to win her first Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, whilst also receiving a BAFTA, Academy Award and SAG nominations for her role in the movie as Best Actress.

In the same year, she hosted an episode of the popular and long-running show Saturday Night live, however, one of her sketches was highly criticised by the media for its stereotypical representations of Irish people but if anyone can make fun of the Irish its the Irish themselves. 

To finish up a successful 2017, Saoirse Ronan also appeared in a music video alongside English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran for his Song “Galway Girl” which was also filmed around Galway, Ireland and was a quick success for the singer and actress.

Queen of Scots

One of Ronan’s biggest movie role to date was in 2018 as she played the lead role of Mary Stuart in the film “Mary Queen of Scots” co-starring Australian actress Margot Robbie, who played Elizabeth 1st of England.

One of the remarkable things about this movie is that neither Ronan or Robbie interacted with each other until they both made their on-screen encounter to help make for a more dramatic performance in the film. Both ladies received critical acclaim for their roles of these two fierce women in history, another unforgettable performance by Saoirse Ronan who also incredibly learnt to speak french for the role.

Future Projects for the Irish Actress

There is plenty more to see from Ronan, later this year she will appear in the remake of Little Women which also reunited her with director and writer Greta Gerwig. She will play the character of Jo March appearing alongside a magnificent cast including Meryl Streep, Emma Watson and Timothee Chalamen which is sure to be a hit. Ronan will again work with renown director Wes Anderson in his new drama film ‘ The French Dispatch’ appearing opposite Kate Winslet.

Saoirse Ronan’s Personal Life

When she’s not acting Ronan is very focal about social and political issues in her home country of Ireland, particularly in supporting same-sex marriages and abortion rights at home. She is also an ambassador for the Irish Society of The Prevention of Cruelty to Children and has appeared in a few of there campaigns.

Ronan also appeared alongside Irish singer Hozier in his music video for ‘Cherry Wine’ to help bring attention to domestic violence within Ireland and around the world. She has never been afraid to speak up and bring to light important issues helping to set a good example for people who look up to her.

Saoirse Ronan has often been recognised as one of the most talented young actors featuring twice in Forbes ‘30 under 30 lists’ as well as Times Next Generation Leaders List and IndieWire also named her as one of the best American actors under 30, these are just a few of the many amazing recognitions she has received for her acting ability over the years.

Ireland’s Most Famous Actress

Ronan is without a doubt one of Ireland’s greatest success stories and probably Ireland’s most talented actress ever. She has achieved so much in her acting career, showing her brilliant versatility in a variety of ways whether that is through film, theatre, voice acting and more helping to emphasise her great ability to bring to life characters whatever the platform. 

Starting out in the film world as a child star, Saoirse has grown with the industry, never losing herself and always appearing down to earth with that famous charm the Irish are known for which could be part of her huge success so far. She has successfully mastered the art of moving from child star to an impressive young actress that everyone wants to work with whilst also redefining female roles on and off-screen. At only, 25 years old you can expect more amazing things from the Irish actress.

If you enjoyed this blog check some of our other blogs dedicated to famous Irish people: Roddy Doyle | Cecilia Ahern | Famous Irish Women | Famous Irish Authors who helped promote Irish Tourism | William Butler Yeats |

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *