Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Saoirse Ronan Talks 'How I Live Now', Working With James Gandolfini & More

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist November 11, 2013 at 12:21PM

Not even 20 years old, Saoirse Ronan has already made a significant cinematic impression. Most of us got our first glimpse of Ronan in Joe Wright’s operatic, Oscar-nominated literary adaptation “Atonement,” and in the years since she has anchored films for directors like Peter Jackson, Peter Weir, Andrew Niccol, and Neil Jordan. (She’s set to team with Ryan Gosling and Wes Anderson for future movies, which we quizzed her about here.) Her latest film, “How I Live Now” (our review) comes from “Last King Of Scotland” director Kevin Macdonald and is based on the acclaimed young adult novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff. Last week, we got to chat with Ronan about what drew her to the film, and asked her to reminisce about what it was like working with the late, great James Gandolfini.
4
How I Live Now, Saoirse Ronan,

Not even 20 years old, Saoirse Ronan has already made a significant cinematic impression. Most of us got our first glimpse of Ronan in Joe Wright’s operatic, Oscar-nominated literary adaptation “Atonement,” and in the years since she has anchored films for directors like Peter Jackson, Peter Weir, Andrew Niccol, and Neil Jordan. (She’s set to team with Ryan Gosling and Wes Anderson for future movies, which we quizzed her about here.) Her latest film, “How I Live Now” (our review) comes from “Last King Of Scotland” director Kevin Macdonald and is based on the acclaimed young adult novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff. Last week, we got to chat with Ronan about what drew her to the film, and asked her to reminisce about what it was like working with the late, great James Gandolfini.

In “How I Live Now,” Ronan plays a bratty American who is set to live with her cousins in the rural English countryside. It’s there that she falls into a deep funk and starts to realize that things outside of their hilly valley aren’t exactly peachy: England, it seems, is engaged in some kind of horrific war with an unnamed country or group. Her entire way of life is turned upside down and she’s forced to wander the country, staying out of the line of fire and trying, desperately, to have some kind of normal life. It's an eerie, contemplative look at the beginnings of the apocalypse, like if Terrence Malick had directed “Red Dawn," and it was this unique approach that engaged Ronan.

“I loved the story. I loved what went on in that world,” the actress said. Although she somewhat bristled when we suggested that the film fall into the category of the “apocalyptic” science fiction film. “It doesn’t feel like a post-apocalyptic film to me. It wasn’t necessarily the end of the world. And I’m not sure it’s sci-fi,” Ronan explained. “It’s very raw and something that really could happen at any point. It’s in the present day and it’s in an environment, particularly if you’re Irish or English, that we’re very familiar with, with the fields and rivers and countryside. And all of that has been poisoned in some way.”

One of the more fascinating aspects of “How I Live Now” is how little you learn about the actual conflict that is unfolding just beyond the characters’ reach (and sometimes right in front of it). This, unsurprisingly, held a lot of appeal for the actress as well. “It was always left ambiguous as to who actually started it. It’s scarier and it’s a bit more eerie that we don’t know where this threat is coming from,” Ronan said. Like any good genre movie, Ronan compared the film to going on a ride. “It’s kind of like when you’re in a haunted house and you don’t know where the next scare is going to come out at you.”

“How I Live Now” also sees the culmination of a year that saw the actress play a vampire for Neil Jordan in “Byzantium,” lead the big budget, heavily hyped YA adaptation “The Host,” and portray a young hit woman in “Violet & Daisy,” the directorial debut of “Precious” screenwriter Geoffrey S. Fletcher. This last picture turned out to be one of the final big screen performances from James Gandolfini, and we asked Ronan if she could reflect on what it was like working with him and learning about his untimely passing. 

“Working with him was amazing. It was terrible finding out about it. I was on the way back from Detroit and I was charging up my laptop for some reason in the airport and was checking my emails and someone headed it with 'Terrible News.' And for some reason I just knew it was Jim,” Ronan explained, still sounding upset about it. We asked what she remembered about working with him. “He was amazing with me. He really was protective of me and took care of me and was just a wonderful actor to work with; really natural and was very kind and kind of saves the film in the way. He was a really great leader for all of us. His son was with us on set, who was a gorgeous kid and wants to continue to do film as well. So it’s really sad that he’s left such a lovely kid behind, too.”

"How I Live Now" is now playing in limited release.

This article is related to: Saoirse Ronan, Kevin Macdonald, James Gandolfini, Interviews, Interviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates