Nominee Q&A

Saoirse Ronan: 'Lady Bird' Shows "the Beauty and the Frustration of Being a Teenager"

Courtesy of Merie Wallace/A24
'Lady Bird'

The Oscar-nominated actress also opens up about being "nervous" for first meeting with writer-director Greta Gerwig and what Alanis Morissette can add to a set.

In the coming-of-age story, the Irish actress plays an eccentric 2000s-era teen growing up in California’s Central Valley, desperate to get out. Ronan, who at just 23 has earned her third Oscar nomination, spoke with THR about her “giggly” first meeting with writer-director Greta Gerwig and what Alanis Morissette can add to a set.

How was that first meeting with Greta?

We had Skyped beforehand, and we just got so giddy with each other. We were like giggly 16-year-olds on the phone. Then, when we saw each other for the first time, it was exactly the same thing. She was doing 20th Century Women, and I was in Toronto [premiering Brooklyn], and she flew in to see me. It was late at night, and I was nervous because ... it was her! And it was a comedy, and I hadn’t done anything like that before.

Did you relate to Lady Bird?

Lady Bird shows the beauty and the frustration of being a teenager, especially around that age when you’re just about to leave home and you just want to get out of the place where you grew up. I really identify with that juxtaposition of confidence and insecurity and how you can really believe in yourself but not quite know exactly what you believe in. I knew that that complexity would be something that would really have to be thought out. The challenge of that really excited me.

How was the vibe on set?

I just remember everyone being in a similar mind-set, and a big part of that was playing music on set. [Greta] played all ’90s and early millennial stuff — Justin Timberlake, Alanis Morissette. That was another really great bonding thing: We are all really familiar with that time period. It’s almost retro now. We all grew up with this music and this fashion; it was all stuff we could really identify with.

This story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.