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TORONTO - Saoirse Ronan has been in this business a long time. She may only be 19-years-old, but the best supporting actress nominee for "Atonement" has been a working actor for a decade. She's already collaborated with filmmakers such as Joe Wright, Peter Jackson, Peter Weir, Neil Jordan and Gillian Armstrong. She's shot all over the globe and walked the red carpets at some of the greatest film festivals in the world. Today, however, Ronan is lying on a couch in a downtown Toronto hotel room as we meet to discuss her latest endeavor, Kevin Macdonald's "How I Live Now."
Ronan isn't being disrespectful or immature, there is just no pretense with her. She's tired. She wants to lie down (it's not like she isn't smiling). Perhaps she gets it from her father, actor Paul Ronan, who I'd met while waiting to talk to Saoirse. The elder Ronan was hanging out in an accompanying suite showing a mutual friend a copy of one of his favorite films, Keen Ivory Wayan's "I"m Gonna Git You Sucka." (Saoirse later, "Oh yes, that's one of dad's favorites.") There is a genial and energetic bluntness to both Ronans that comes across when you first meet them. And to say it's refreshing is a bit of an understatement. But, there is work at hand, and that's chatting about "How I Live Now" which debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Set in the near future, Ronan plays Daisy, a young American sent to spend part of the summer with her British relatives in the English countryside. In the midst of her bonding with cousins Edmond (George McKay) and Isaac (Tom Holland) a massive European war breaks out. When a nuclear bomb goes off in London, Daisy has the chance to escape back to relatively safe America or stay with her cousins whom are without any adult supervision. She choses the later and the rest of the picture is a pretty realistic look at what would happen to an island nation like the U.K. if this sort of tragedy occurred.
"How I Live" is based on Meg Rosoff's celebrated novel and it's not the first movie Ronan has appeared in adapted from a popular book. That being said, Ronan says that if given the choice she prefers not to read the original source material.
"I've been very lucky in the sense that the scripts have always been very strong whenever they've been adapted from books," Ronan says. "So, I've always wanted to focus on the script version of the story 'cause that's what we're gonna the adapting. That's the one were gonna put on the screen."
Without skipping a beat, Ronan looks at my orange framed sunglasses hanging from my shirt collar and adds, "So, I like your glasses by the way. I got some as well."
"They're free," I say off the TIFF branded glasses (perfect when you've broken your own pair en route to the festival).
"I know," Ronan says smiling. "It's always better when it's free."
Back to our interview (the clock is ticking), I have to ask if she really got away with starring in "The Host," written by none other than Stephenie Meyers, without flipping through the book.
"I read that book before because there was so much in the book," Ronan says. "There was so much of a back story that it was kind of important to read it, you know. And as well, I mean there's no fan base out there, apart from maybe J.K. Rowling, like Stephenie's fan base. But with ['How I Live Now'] not so much, you know? It's basically the same. There's a few things that have changed, ages have been altered, some characters have been left in from the books. Some characters haven't."