“It’s very intimate. There are certain moments where it feels like it’s just you and the lens.” – Saoirse Ronan on Film Acting
For young actors, reaching the end of a television or movie shoot must feel like moving away from home — the set of people you’ve built bonds with over several weeks or months will part, and it’s on to the next set of collaborators. At least, that’s how Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan felt about her first experience acting, as she tells Vogue. The acclaimed Lady Bird star spoke to the magazine about what acting means to her, why she feels sad after every project, and what makes her comfortable and uncomfortable when it comes to acting.
“I went into this melancholic state for a few weeks. I remember sitting on the bed with Mam next to me, and I was like: ‘I’m never going to have that experience again.’” What the nine-year-old Ronan was upset about is that it was the last time the people she had developed bonds with on set will ever work together again: “It was that thought: That exact crew will never work together again. Never.”
Despite being on set with so many others, Ronan sometimes feels like acting can be a very private thing that an actor shares with the audience. She says, “It’s very intimate. There are certain moments where it feels like it’s just you and the lens.” With that in mind, Ronan points out that one of the objects that she is most familiar with is the camera. She reveals, “It’s something that has been a very stable, consistent thing in my life. The camera has been the thing that has stuck around the longest.” Despite the intimacy and stability of the camera, Ronan confesses that an actor needs to discover new ways to express themselves beyond their normal actions and reactions, saying, “You need to push yourself out of that bubble of intuition and find a different way of being honest.”
But what about acting without a camera? After all, Ronan appeared for several months in the 2016 production of The Crucible as Abigail Williams. Of that experience, Ronan recalls, “Doing it for that long, the play becomes this other beast for you. I had gotten to know Abigail so well—she was mine every night.”
Ronan’s life off-screen remains remarkably private by movie stardom standards. She admits that is in part a result of how seriously she approaches her roles — leaving her with little time for anything else. Ronan explains, “When I’m working, I can’t really do anything else. I can’t go out, I can’t meet up with anyone, I don’t read anything. Someone said to me, ‘You’re monogamous when it comes to your work,’ and it’s so true. You can only commit to one thing at a time.”
Does she still feel sad when a shoot concludes? “You don’t ever fully get over that. You just learn to cope with it,” Ronan says. Part of that also comes from Ronan’s concern that she won’t be able to perform her next role correctly, adding, “At the very beginning of pretty much every job I think, I’m not going to be able to do it this time. I’ve forgotten how to do it.”
Ronan believes that acting is good for your soul and that it betters one as a person. She says, “You want to be doing something in your life that wakes you up. There’s something wonderful about doing the type of work that is a part of you because you can give it everything you’ve got. And it gives so much back to you as well. You become better. You become a better person.”