Saoirse Una Ronan (born 12 April 1994) is an Irish and American actress.
Primarily noted for her roles in period dramas since adolescence, Ronan has received several awards including a Golden Globe Award and nominations for four Academy Awards and five British Academy Film Awards.
Ronan made her acting debut in 2003 with the Irish medical drama series The Clinic and her film debut in the romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007). Her breakthrough came with the part of a precocious teenager in Atonement (2007), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Ronan followed this with starring roles of a murdered girl seeking closure in The Lovely Bones (2009) and a teenage assassin in Hanna (2011), and the supporting part of a baker in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). She has received critical acclaim for playing a homesick Irish immigrant in 1950s New York in Brooklyn (2015), the eponymous high school senior in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird (2017), and Jo March in Gerwig’s Little Women (2019). Ronan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for all three performances, and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Lady Bird.
On stage, Ronan portrayed Abigail Williams in the 2016 Broadway revival of The Crucible. In the same year, she was featured by Forbes in two of their 30 Under 30 lists. Ronan has spoken out about social and political issues of Ireland.
In 2016, Ronan moved to New York City to begin rehearsals for her debut appearance on Broadway, in a revival of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. She took the role of Abigail Williams, a manipulative maid responsible for the death of 150 people accused of witchcraft. Based on the Salem witch trials, the play was directed by Ivo van Hove and ran for 125 performances. In preparation, she read Stay Schiff’s book The Witches: Salem, 1692, and collaborated closely with van Hove to empathise with her villainous character. Instead of relying on previous portrayals of Williams, Ronan played her as “more victim than victimizer”. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney found Ronan to be “icy and commanding” in it and Linda Winer of Newsday commented that she had played the part “with the duplicity of a malevolent surfer-girl”.
Ronan next voiced Marguerite Gachet in the biographical animated drama Loving Vincent (2017), and starred alongside Billy Howle as troubled newlyweds on their honeymoon in a film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel On Chesil Beach. In a mixed review of the latter film, Kate Erbland of IndieWire thought that Ronan was underutilised in it and that her performance had been overshadowed by Howle’s work. She then starred in Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film Lady Bird, in which she played the titular role of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a high school senior who shares a tumultuous relationship with her mother (played by Laurie Metcalf). It ranks among the best-reviewed films of all time on the review-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Labelling Ronan’s performance as one of the best of the year, A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, “Ronan navigates each swerve in Lady Bird’s story with an uncanny combination of self-confidence and discovery. She is as spontaneous and unpredictable as an actual 17-year-old … which suggests an altogether stupefying level of craft.” She won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical; and received Academy Award, BAFTA and SAG nominations for Best Actress. Also in 2017, Ronan hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, in which one of her sketches was criticised in the media for stereotypical portrayal of Irish people, and featured in the music video for Ed Sheeran’s song “Galway Girl”.
In 2018, Ronan starred in an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull, in which she played Nina, an aspiring actress. In a mixed review of the film, Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post praised Ronan’s performance, writing that she “makes for an incandescent Nina, especially in her loopy final-act speech”. In the same year, she starred as Mary Stuart in the period drama Mary Queen of Scots, co-starring Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I of England. To maintain the distance between their characters, Robbie and Ronan did not interact with one another before filming their climactic encounter. The critic Todd McCarthy praised the performances of both actresses and credited Ronan for ” carr the film with fiercely individualistic spirit”. Labelling Ronan as “one of the industry’s most consistently impressive young actors”, Benjamin Lee of The Guardian considered her portrayal of Mary to be “an astonishingly confident and committed turn”.
After becoming aware of an upcoming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, with Greta Gerwig directing, Ronan campaigned to play the leading role of Jo March, an aspiring author in the American Civil War era. She was cast, and in preparation read Marmee & Louisa, a biography about Alcott and her mother; the ensemble rehearsed the script for two weeks, and filming took place on location in Concord, Massachusetts. Little Women was released in 2019 to critical acclaim. Considering it as the “most arrestingly grown-up” performance of Ronan’s career, Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair took note of how well she played the character, “in all her conflicted loyalty, the struggle between her familial contentment and her yearning for something more.” The film earned over $177 million against its $40 million budget. Once again, she earned Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress.
Ronan will next reunite with Wes Anderson in the ensemble film The French Dispatch, about American journalists in France, and will portray Charlotte Murchison opposite Kate Winslet’s Mary Anning in Ammonite, a drama about a romantic relationship between the two women in the 1840s.