As a nod to the nostalgic, we're asking celebrities questions pulled from those revealing MySpace surveys that we all know and love—highlighting their innermost thoughts, feelings, and favorite things with Broadly's "The Survey."
Sitting across the table from me, Saoirse Ronan was pretty much exactly how I’d envisioned her to be: commanding yet courteous, heavily accented, and serenely magnetic. During our conversation she showed me a photo of her dog, Fran, on her phone, waxed poetic about her love for Paddington 2, and admitted that she never had a Myspace profile. After being, like seemingly everyone else in the world, charmed by Ronan’s onstage presence in Ladybird—the 2017 film that make her a household name—I was charmed all over again.
Friday marked a new milestone for Ronan: the release of director Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots, in which she stars as the titular matriarch across from Margot Robbie as her royal competitor—and cousin—Queen Elizabeth I. The historically revisionist period piece is tailored for our time: rather than simply portraying Mary as a cold-hearted queen (as she’s typically depicted), it shows her as a young woman in politics learning to exercise her immense, newfound power while also grappling with being a political pawn herself.
Ronan says she has been interested in playing the role of Mary for years, initially just based on the draw of being able to portray a Celtic queen. Then, as she grew older and eventually began rehearsals for this film, she found that the character also resonated with the professional moment in which she finds herself. “The more you do the work that you do, the more responsibility comes with that—or, the more hard decisions you need to make. You're inevitably going to let people down, and upset certain people,” Ronan tells Broadly. “Being able to sort of own that, and accept that, and still stay true to yourself, is hard.”
Ronan was filming for Mary when Lady Bird was released. As her career reached new heights, she says, she found herself having to make increasingly difficult decisions. “Being able to play someone who was able to make own her decisions, regardless of what people thought, was genuinely very inspiring for me as a young woman,” she says. “In the same way that you meet a new person who has a big impact on you, I really think she did on me.”
Ronan’s next highly-anticipated role is playing the beloved, rebellious Jo in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 take on Little Women as part of a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, and Laura Dern. After coming of age, so to speak, as the teenage protagonist in Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and exercising her agency in Mary, she says playing Jo feels like a “free-for-all” in which she’s doing some “mad stuff” she’s never done before onscreen.
“She's so wild, and I think Mary has helped me to get here with Jo,” says Ronan. “Because Mary had this sense of a caged bird who just needed to get out. Even with her physical movements, everything was quite big, and quite fluid. And I feel like I've just gone on a little bit farther with Jo; I've pushed that a little bit more.”
Because we at Broadly are suckers for nostalgia, we decided to get to know Ronan better at this juncture in her career by asking her a rapid-fire series of questions culled from various Myspace surveys. (If you're a millennial, you must remember those exhaustingly long-lists Qs—ranging from the mundane to the super intimate—that used to circulate on social media and via email, and were the ultimate way of getting a portrait of a person in the early Aughts.) Despite having never done one before and completely missing the nostalgic element, Ronan was generously forthcoming.
BROADLY: What's the last beverage you drank?
SAOIRSE RONAN: Tea.
What's the last song you listened to?
"He Doesn't Know Why” by the Fleet Foxes.
Do you have any pets?
I have a dog. Her name's Fran. She's very cute.
When was the last time you cried?
I started to cry last night, watching Paddington 2. Because he's in prison, and Brendan Gleason says to him, "The family's gonna forget about you." And he says, "No, they wouldn't do that." And then he starts to doubt it, and he's not sure if they will forget about him…the Paddington series is very effective.
Have you ever dated the same person again after breaking up?
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Princess Consuela Banana Hammock.
What did you do for your last birthday?
I went to West Cork with my mom.
Aside from social media, what's your most visited web page?
I actually don't use social media. So, my most visited web page would probably be Wikipedia, because I'm just always looking things up. Or, Monki—the clothes shop.
Cool. Do you have any nicknames?
Cute. Do you identify with your zodiac sign?
Yeah. Strong-minded, bull-headed, independent. I'm very Aries.
Do you believe in psychics?
I think I do, yeah. I think a lot of them are rubbish. But I think there are some.
If you could go back in time, what year would you go to?
Probably the 70s. I like the 70s.
What's your biggest insecurity?
I have to get over this: I don't like when I'm not funny.
Like when you make a joke, and it fails?
Yeah, or just like when you're not feeling yourself.
When you order Chinese food, what do you get?
Usually I get General Tso’s chicken. But I've been having Mongolian Shrimp recently, and it's delicious. It's like quinoa rice. It's very nice.
What's your go-to karaoke song?
"Love Shack" is always a good one. And "Total Eclipse of the Heart"—because even if you are a bit crap, it doesn’t really matter.
Have you ever been in a physical fight?
Not in real-life, no. Not like punching, or anything.
If you had to choose a different job, what would it be?
I'd like to work in the radio. I'd quite like to be a producer of a music radio show. I think that’d be quite cool. If it's in film, I'd like to direct, but if it's not, I'd like to do something like that. Or, I've just gotten into knitting. Maybe I could be a knitter.
If you could live in any fictional universe, which would you choose?
Don't know why it's come into my head, but not the one in The Handmaid's Tale, that's for sure. Oh, probably Stars Hollow, Gilmore Girls.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Paddington 2 is a new favorite of mine, for sure. And I love when Gone With the Wind is on. I consider that a Christmas film. Love, Actually. Home Alone.
Is there any song that immediately makes you cry?
Yes, this song called “Song to the Siren.” You know that group, This Mortal Coil, that's like a bunch of musicians? They did this album, and there was a song on it that we used to always play when we were shooting The Lovely Bones, 'cause they just knew it would make me cry. It's just a very beautiful song. And then, "The Auld Triangle," which is an Irish song. Any Irish traditional song makes me cry.