Ronan gets her Irish up in 'Budapest'

Posted: March 14, 2014

OUT of Saoirse Ronan's career - from her Academy Award-nominated turn in "Atonement" to her take as a teen assassin in "Hanna" to her role as a murdered girl in the Philly-shot "Lovely Bones" - her audience has never heard her natural Irish accent. That is, until her role in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

"In a way, an accent really helps you separate yourself from your character," Ronan said. "It really determines how you communicate and what kind of sense of humor you have. When we decided she was going to have an Irish accent, it instantly made her feisty and quite warm because that's how Irish people are." Ronan laughed. "Because we're the best."

In "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Ronan plays Agatha, the love interest to bellhop Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori) in Anderson's most recent meticulously-constructed film. The film tells the story of Zero's boss, beloved hotel concierge M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), who is accused of murder after one of his lovers (Tilda Swinton) is found dead in her European mansion. Yet, Agatha is no wilting woman. She's strong and crafty, bespotted with a giant birthmark the shape of Mexico on her face that no one ever mentions.

"What birthmark?" Ronan said, joking, when I question her about her character's facial blemish. "I didn't really think about the birthmark. I thought it was hilarious when I read it, but after that I didn't really consider it at all. It's just a part of who she is. It's a physical characteristic that's so in-your-face, but it doesn't define her. If you had something like that on your face, I'm sure you'd be so completely insecure, but it's just a part of who she is. It's nice that it's forgotten about quite quickly."

While Ronan said that she was attracted to playing a no-nonsense woman like Agatha, she would have done it regardless because of Anderson, who she always wanted to work with. Ronan said that she shot scenes for only about two weeks but was on-set the entire time, so she didn't have much of a sense of what the completed movie would eventually end up looking like. "It's the only film of mine I've been in where I've been able to watch it as an audience member," Ronan said.

Ronan is used to the downtime on sets. She reminisced about shooting "Lovely Bones" right outside Philadelphia. The shoot was long - about eight months - allowing Ronan and the crew to explore. "I definitely remember running up the steps that Rocky did," Ronan said, like any good tourist. "But I spent most of my free time at the King of Prussia Mall."


On Twitter: @mollyeichel

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