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Saoirse Ronan Talks About 'Hanna'

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Saoirse Ronan in 'Hanna'

Saoirse Ronan in 'Hanna'

© Focus Features
Saoirse Ronan tackles her most action-heavy role with Hanna, a twisted coming of age story co-starring Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. Hanna reunites Ronan with her Atonement director Joe Wright and in fact it was Ronan who actually suggested Wright for the job.

At the LA press day for the Focus Features film, Ronan talked about teaming up with Wright on this film which is completely different than their first project together. "It was fantastic," said Ronan. "I mean, the relationship that we had on Atonement kind of followed through into Hanna and just developed even more so. I suppose just like getting to know a friend better, really. Professionally, we got to know each other and understand each other even more so, and on a personal level as well, which was nice. It felt more like a collaboration on this film and it was something that I really felt like we were doing together. It was a new direction for both of us. So we were taking a risk by doing this and it was exciting. It was exciting to share that with someone who I’d gotten on so well with four years prior."

On training to play a teenage assassin:

Saoirse Ronan: "I trained for a couple of months before I started and I would do about two hours a day in the gym. I’d work out and I’d do weightlifting and treadmills and bench-pressing and things like that. Lovely, lovely things that I want to carry on with. I did martial arts as well for about two hours in the evening. So I’d workout for about 4-1/2 to 5 hours a day for a few months."

Asked which of her new skills will be most useful in real life, Ronan replied, "I don’t know. I mean, I use them all. I’ve got my Lugar at home. I didn’t bring it away with me but… Well, not the sticks, really. When am I ever going to stick fight anyone? Although it is fun. Well, guns always come in handy, not in real life. I don’t use guns. But I did a film since then and I did use guns for that. And I kind of knew what to expect and I knew how to handle a gun, and I knew right now you’re supposed to put it down when you’re not using it. You know, basic things like that. So I guess that would come in pretty handy."

On playing a character who was raised alone in the woods by her father, trained from birth to be an assassin, and who knows nothing about the outside world:

Saoirse Ronan: "I kind of thought of Hanna’s mind - although in some ways it was very well developed - she’s kind of like a baby. She’s stepping out into the world, and although she’s right about all these things and knows all these facts and is fluent in all these languages, she doesn’t really know about life. I think she’s just constantly in a state of shock and excitement and awe and fascination the whole time throughout her journey."

"One thing that I find really interesting about Hanna is that she’s only grown up with her father; her whole like that’s the only person she’s had for her company. She’s never really been in the company of a female, so when she encounters Rachel and Sophie who are members of the family that she stays with for a while, she’s fascinated by them and she falls in love with the idea of a more well developed version of her own gender, I guess. And so I really liked that about Hanna."

On playing a kick-ass heroine:

Saoirse Ronan: "It wasn’t really something I thought about to be honest. I’ve always been quite an active person, especially when I was younger. When I was in primary school, I used to play lots of sports. I was a sprinter and I did basketball and swimming and Gaelic football and things like that. So I always thought, I guess, that it would be fun to incorporate that much physical activity and work into a dramatic piece. That’s kind of what this film turned out to be. I thought it was simply just going to be an action film but it ended up being very layered, so it was nice to have both and work with both."

On the film's difficult stunts:

Saoirse Ronan: "I liked doing the stunts. I mean, as long as I was safe and I was padded up and I was harnessed and things like that, I was fine. We had a fantastic stunt coordination team. We really, really did. Jeff Imada was the head of the whole thing. He’s done all the Bourne movies and he’s done like about 400 projects in his life so far. Really, that was one of the best parts of the film for me because they kept me so safe and always made me feel like I was safe and I felt like I was capable of doing whatever Joe needed me to do for the film."

On her favorite and least favorite aspects of Hanna's personality:

Saoirse Ronan: "My favorite part is that she loves music. She realizes she loves music. And my least favorite part is she doesn’t kiss the Spanish guy. She throws him to the ground. I don’t know. I’m just going to say that. I don’t really have a least favorite part. But I didn’t agree with her doing that. He was cute, wasn’t he?"

On challenging herself by playing emotionally interesting roles:

Saoirse Ronan: "They’re very interesting. It’s sort of an impulse thing, I think, when I read a script. I’ll just know from reading it whether it’s a character that I’ve fallen in love with, and if somebody else gets to do it, I’ll feel awful about it. But if they get it, it’s fine. I like to play characters that are different from me, and most of the characters that I’ve played have been entirely different from me. And that’s it, really. I think just I like to try things that are different, things that are interesting for me and simply a character that I’ve just fallen in love with, really. And when I can’t get the character out of my head, and I’m in my bedroom and I start to actually act out the scenes that I’ve read in a script, I think, 'Okay, I really want to do this.'"

On shooting in Finland:

Saoirse Ronan: "I think it was around minus 30 degrees Celsius and that’s very cold. The crew were complaining that it was freezing, except for the Finnish crew. They were used to it. And they all had their big puffer jackets on and their snow boots and their gloves and their hats and things like that. Eric [Bana] and I, for the whole time that we were there, had a bit of deer fur around our bodies, fingerless gloves that were made out of cloth or something and that was about it. So it was difficult to fight in that and your muscles don’t work properly. But it’s beautiful and I think that shows on screen. It’s such an enchanting place to be. It sort of feels like you’re in a winter wonderland."

And about those The Hobbit rumors...will her archery training come in handy for that film?:

Saoirse Ronan: "Well I’m not confirmed to do The Hobbit yet. If I did get a part, I’m sure it would come in handy because a lot of the characters in that film live in the woods and have makeshift weapons and things like that. So yeah, it probably would. We’ll see if that happens."

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Hanna hits theaters on April 8, 2011.

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