Saoirse Ronan: 5 Things to Know

Alex Baily/Focus Features

The actress, who turns 17 next week, plays a child assassin alongside Erik Bana and Cate Blanchet in action-thriller Hanna (opening Friday). 

Here are 5 things you need to know about the critically-acclaimed Ronan.  

1. Her name, which means 'freedom' in Irish, is pronounced 'Sur-shuh'. 

The Irish actress was born in New York City, but grew up in County Carlow, Ireland. The home-school actress is also the only daughter of Paul Ronan (The Devil's Own). 

2. She was nominated for an Oscar at the age of 13. 

Ronan played Briony, a young girl who falsely accuses a man (James McAvoy) of rape, in 2007's Atonement. The then-13-year-old was nominated for a supporting Oscar, but lost to Tilda Swinton for her role in Michael Clayton. 

3. She picked her Hanna director.

Ronan signed on to the Focus Features film before there was a director attached and suggested her former Atonement director, Joe Wright. "I said, 'Just tell him I'm doing it,'" she told the New York Times. "Which was a bit cheeky, but then Joe rang me up a few days later." 

4. There is a lot of speculation about what she's doing next.

Rumors have been swirling about Ronan nabbing a role in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, and the actress has said "hopefully" there'll be a part for her (she appeared in the director's The Lovely Bones in 2009). She also shot down rumors of being cast in Wright's adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, but hinted to MTV that, "There's a lot of things going on right now and nothing has really been confirmed. So we'll see." 

See the other young actresses she's competing for roles with

5. She knows how to punch. 

Her Hanna co-star Eric Bana was initially nervous about performing the film's fight scene with the then-15-year-old Ronan. "After the second day, I had no issue at all," Bana told the Cleveland Sun News. "I thought 'I'm actually going to have to watch out for myself because of this jab she's got.' I mean, she's got a really good right, a very good boxer's right."